Durban – The family of Olympic cyclist Burry Stander have lost all faith in the criminal justice system and say they have received “shabby treatment” from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
This was after charges against the taxi driver implicated in Stander’s death were withdrawn earlier this week.
“What happened is profoundly disappointing,” their lawyer, Paul Preston, said on Wednesday in a letter written, at the request of the family, to the chief prosecutor for southern KwaZulu-Natal, Ray Sansom. Preston called on the NPA to ensure that the charges were reinstated.
Njabulo Nyawose was driving a taxi and Stander cycling when the two collided in January. Stander, then 25, was killed and Nyawose was arrested and charged with culpable homicide.
But, on Monday, when the State requested that the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court grant it a fourth postponement for a decision to be taken on whether or not to prosecute Nyawose, magistrate Piet Coetzee said there had been too many delays and refused the request, causing the State to withdraw the charges.
Preston has slammed the NPA for not keeping the Stander family and, in particular, Stander’s widow, Cherise, abreast of the case’s progress.
Cherise was not in court on Monday and first came to know that the charges had been withdrawn when The Mercury contacted her for comment.
“If there was a danger that this matter would be withdrawn due to the delays which all of us, with respect, find perplexing, then myself and the Stander family should have been alerted to this long before,” Preston said.
“One can only imagine how it must have felt for the family to hear from the press that charges had been withdrawn.”
Preston asked why, when the postponement was refused, the matter was not stood down for prosecutor Nozipho Maseko to discuss the State’s next move with her superiors. The State should have considered making a more senior prosecutor available to argue for the postponement, he said.
Preston noted what he called an “often disappointing performance” on the part of the NPA and said the Stander family was owed an apology as well as the NPA’s assurance that the case would be brought before the courts again.
Provincial spokeswoman for the NPA, Natasha Ramkisson, was on Wednesday unable to provide comment on Preston’s letter, but said on Tuesday this week that the director of public prosecutions was still in the process of deciding whether or not to pursue the charges against Nyawose. – The Mercury