Cops in dock for apartheid-era murder
Cape Town - An apartheid-era mystery spanning 33 years is one step closer to being solved after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced it would be prosecuting four police officers linked to the kidnapping and death of ANC operative Nokuthula Simelane.
Simelane was an ANC undercover operative and the men were linked to the Soweto Special Branch at the time of her disappearance in 1983.
On Monday, NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed that the four members would be appearing in court later this month on a charge of murder.
“The National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, decided to indict the four members of the Soweto Special Branch.”
Mfaku said Simelane was an ANC activist and was kidnapped in 1983 and tortured by the Special Branch.
He said three of the four men applied for amnesty for Simelane’s kidnapping at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but not for murder.
Mfaku said Abrahams had evaluated evidence in the contained dockets before making his decision.
“Evidence is at our disposal (that) they must be prosecuted for murder,” said Mfaku.
The suspects are to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on February 26.
Hanif Vally, of the Foundation for Human Rights, which had been working closely with the Simelane family, said they had been seeking justice for their loved one.
Vally said: “The Simelanes have been looking for justice and closure.
“They are still not advised on where the remains of their sister are.”
The only symbol left for the family is the life-size statue of her erected in Bethal by the Mpumalanga government in 2009.
According to a statement released by the NPA, Simelane was kidnapped by the Soweto Special Branch and was illegally detained at the Norwood police barracks for a week where she was interrogated on ANC operations between South Africa and Swaziland. As part of the interrogation, she was severely tortured.
The interrogation continued on a farm in the district of Northam for weeks.
She was not seen after that.
The NPA said the men, at the TRC hearing, sought amnesty for kidnapping Simelane, claiming she was alive.
They said they had managed to “turn” Simelane and had redeployed her to Swaziland as a spy.
However, that evidence was contested by testimony made by one of the alleged murderers, who said she had been “tortured and brutally murdered and buried around the Rustenburg area”, according to the NPA’s statement.
Two years ago, the family of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neill Aggett laid private criminal charges of culpable homicide against his alleged torturers.
Aggett was the first white man to die at the hands of the apartheid government since 1963, when he died in detention after being held for 70 days without trial at Joburg’s John Vorster Square prison in 1982.
The family’s quest for justice continues, with the Hawks in the process of examining the 6 000 pages of evidence from the 1982 inquest into Aggett’s death.
In December, the city council named a park in Quinan Road, Somerset West, to honour Aggett.