9th July marks the 34th year since the death of Ashley Kriel. The 20-year-old freedom fighter was gunned down whilst allegedly resisting being arrested by Apartheid police. The policeman and perpetrator of this crime claimed it was an accident. An Apartheid-era judicial inquiry found that the policeman version was true. These Apartheid-era inquests also found that Imam Haron fell from the stairs, that Ahmed Timol jumped from the 10th Floor of Johannesburg Central Police Station and that Dr Neil Aggett and many others committed suicide whilst in police custody. The family of Ashley Kriel continue to contest this view of an accident and believe that the TRUTH of what happened that fateful day must be revealed through the reopening of the Apartheid-era inquest.
Every year marks a painful chapter in the loss and pain experienced by the family of Ashley Kriel, with no end in sight. This is the case too for many of the families of victims of Apartheid-era crimes. The perpetrators, the accused and their political principals enjoy the fruits of our freedom, the benefits of the democracy they resisted and bask in their inglorious past whilst living on the pensions paid to them by the people’s government.
The family of Ashley Kriel, in collaboration with the Apartheid era Victims’ Families Group (AVFG) welcome the 22 June Supreme Court of Appeal judgement in the Ahmed Timol matter that sets a legal precedent for Apartheid era perpetrators accused of murder to face prosecution. The disappointment expressed by the F W De Klerk Foundation in this judgement clearly shows its impact. Joao Rodrigues, who was the subject of this judgement and is accused of the murder of Ahmed Timol, is now petitioning the Constitutional Court on the grounds of having suffered a stroke amongst other reasons. He wants a stay of prosecution.
The AVFG which includes the sisters of Ashley Kriel has welcomed the renewed interest and commitment expressed by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) and the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (DPCI) following the SCA Judgement and will now allocate dedicated resources to follow up on the 300 cases recommended by the TRC for further investigation and prosecution.
The Kriel family was first approached by the HAWKS in 2016 and after some promise that an investigation will be opened. There has been no contact with the family until earlier this year. We hope that this renewed interest will result in a thorough investigation using the advancement in technology and forensics to support our claim that this untimely death was not an accident. We want a clear timeframe for a prosecution driven investigation and we do not want our hopes dashed again.
Ashley Kriel mobilized a generation of Cape Flats youth, gave them a sense of purpose, led them in the struggle for liberation against a brutal Apartheid regime and sacrificed his life for the establishment of the democratic South Africa that we have today. His family and the AVFG is ready to support and strengthen the work of the institutions of this democracy for which Ashley was killed.
The family has waited for 34 years for a just outcome and have not sat by idly waiting for the Judicial system to work for it. They have kept the memory and message of Ashley Kriel alive and will again this year commemorate the life and legacy of Ashley through an online event.