Renewed drive from Hawks, NPA to probe, prosecute apartheid-era crimes
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks say they have adopted a strategy to create dedicated and sustainable capacity to investigate and prosecute apartheid-era atrocity crimes.
The NPA says it is in the process of setting up a specialist unit to deal exclusively with these matters, and will be appointing former experienced prosecutors in offices which require additional capacity.
The NPA and the Hawks made these announcements on Sunday after a judgment by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Monday dismissing Joao Rodrigues's application for a permanent stay of prosecution in the case where he is charged with the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol in October 1971.
Rodrigues, a former sergeant attached to the police security branch under apartheid, had sought a permanent stay, citing the lengthy period it took him to be charged for Timol's murder.
The NPA and the Hawks said the SCA judgment will enable them to move ahead to prosecute Rodrigues and other perpetrators of apartheid-era crimes where there was sufficient evidence.
They said National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi has transferred the apartheid-era cases to the relevant directors of public prosecutions (DPPs) in the regions where the crimes were committed, with support from the national office.
The NPA said this approach increased the number of experienced prosecutors available to handle these complex cases.
As a result, the number of cases under consideration has increased from four to 53 over the past 12 months, it said.
The Hawks said it has embarked on a process to to re-enlist a number of former police officials with a wealth of knowledge in the detective environment.
The NPA added that the inquests into the deaths in detention of Neil Aggett and Ernest Dipale, which were reopened, have reached an advanced stage.
Hawks head Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya said investigations into these cases were continuing.
“The capacity of the team will be enhanced as the need arises. The (Hawks) shall have built sufficient capacity to carry out any processes that may be left pending,” Lebeya said.