The Apartheid era Victims Family Group (AVFG) welcomes the joint statement of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI). In the aforementioned statement, these two law enforcement bodies detail their rejuvenated commitment to both investigate and prosecute the Apartheid era murders and deaths of our loved ones.
However, we as the families are rather aggrieved that the NPA and DPCI only arrived at this commitment following last week’s judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein that dismissed the application for a permanent stay of prosecution brought upon by the legal team of Joao Roderigues in the Ahmed Timol matter. In his application for a permanent stay of execution, Rodrigues claimed a ‘blanket amnesty’ which he falsely believed was granted to him and many of his ilk by the administration of former president Thabo Mbeki. Fortunately, the SCA had to set both him and the NPA straight. We repeat, the NPA and the DCPI did not require this judgment to revive investigations and initiate prosecutions.
The Watchdog | Prosecuting apartheid era crimes: 22 June 2021
It is however unfortunate, that the NPA and the DPCI had seemingly cowered under political pressure not to act in the interest of justice for almost two decades. It is quite clear that there was a lack of political will on the part of the governing party, to prioritise our loved ones cases’ despite recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for further investigation and prosecution of more than 300 cases.
Several ANC led administrations have failed us as the families and it is unforgivable that some of these politicians now also stand accused of having interfered in the work of the NPA when former National Director of Public Prosecutions Adv Vusi Pikoli showed some commitment to prosecute cases as recommended by the TRC. In any case, we as the families of apartheid era victims are rather skeptical of the appointment of 34 supposedly experienced detectives. Based on past experiences with the Hawks, we demand a transparent process for the appointment of these investigators. The public is entitled to know the identities and history of the candidates, in particular, whether any of them are or were previously involved in Apartheid related structures? As can be expected, such association would compromise their objectivity in that they would be in fact be in charge of investigating their colleagues.
Similarly, we demand to know who the NPA has appointed in regional offices to lead prosecutions?
We make these demands because experience has taught us that the involvement of the so called “experienced detectives” has tainted the outcome of investigations.
In the Timol matter, for example, the family was initially informed that former police officers involved in his murder could either not be traced, were too old or had passed on. It is through the persistence of the Timol family that Rodrigues and Apartheid Police interrogators, Sons and Els, were brought under scrutiny.
Lastly, the AVFG, asserts that separately and collectively, members have vast amounts of experience and knowledge of their cases.
We would like to assure both the NPA and the DPCI of our willingness to assist as best we can to help the rapid advance of their investigations and possible prosecutions.
The NPA and DPCI should consider the families as allies. The families have not sat by idly waiting for justice, but have for years been pro-active in the pursuit of the truth and of justice.
The position of the AVFG is that all cases are of equal importance and equal attention and diligence should be given by the authorities to the process of investigating and prosecuting each of the violations in question. This is our definition of justice.
The AVFG will pay close attention to processes of the NPA and DPCI’s as they proceed based on their renewed promise.
For media queries, kindly contact KONE GUGUSHE at 082 411 1214 (Daughter of Mapetla Mohapi)