In a shocking turn of events in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, Samier Slamang, 24, and Waylon Botha, 22, were acquitted on all 13 charges against them, including the murder of six-year-old Saadiqah, and charges relating to organised crime.
Acting Judge A Langa said the state’s case was weak and their witnesses “unreliable”.
The child was shot in her stomach in May 2016 while standing in her grandmother’s driveway in Bokmakierie.
She was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital where doctors fought to save her life.
Doctor Rowan Dhar testified that she died because she had lost too much blood.
During the trial, witnesses changed their testimony, and warrants of arrest had to be issued against four of the witnesses after they failed to arrive at court to testify.
One of them, Shaheen Haas, Saadiqah’s uncle, was even jailed after he told the court he didn’t want to testify because his son’s life had been threatened.
He will now spend 18 months behind bars after failing to produce evidence of these alleged threats.
Slamang and Botha, who both belonged to gangs in Bokmakierie according to the state, have maintained their innocence.
Slamang said Saadiqah was like a child to him and he and his wife looked after her since she was a baby.
Saadiqah’s mother Chemieze Francis said she could not believe it when people told her he had shot her daughter.
On Monday, the accused walked out of court as free men.
Their defence lawyer, Bruce Hendricks, says they were “very happy” with the outcome, but that it was not unexpected.
Last week, defence advocate Ross McKernan brought an application to have all the witness’ statements dismissed.
“The state’s case was weak and they could not give the Judge a reason to continue with the prosecution,” said Hendricks.
“My clients were very happy to prove they were innocent. The witnesses the state brought were unreliable and every single one of them had changed their story once they were sworn in at court. It was inevitable that they would walk free.”
Saadiqah’s heartbroken mother did not want to comment on Monday.
Grandmother Malikah Francis says she leaves justice in God’s hands.
“We put our faith in the justice system and I believe the judge could have done more, but Allah will see that we get justice for Saadiqah. There is nothing left to say,” says the grandmother.