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NPA faces pressure over prosecution of Cradock Four suspects

Mathew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli who were known as the ’Cradock Four’ lie in this grave. The four men were killed by state security forces in June 1985. Picture: Benny Gool

Mathew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli who were known as the ’Cradock Four’ lie in this grave. The four men were killed by state security forces in June 1985. Picture: Benny Gool

Published Dec 5, 2021

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THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is under pressure to prosecute suspects in the murder of the Cradock Four after it missed its own deadline this week to make a decision on the matter.

The NPA had set December 2 as the deadline with regard to the prosecution of those implicated in the murder of the Cradock Four in the Eastern Cape in June 1985.

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However, it missed the deadline and has not commented on it.

Tomorrow NPA boss Shamila Batohi will brief the media on issues affecting the entity including the resignation of Investigating Directorate head Hermione Cronje.

But Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice also wants answers from the NPA on missing the December 2 deadline on the prosecution of the Cradock Four suspects.

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said yesterday they would meet with the NPA on Wednesday to discuss this matter.

“What is going to be part of the agenda is (their) missing the deadline of the prosecution of the Cradock Four (suspects). It’s not long ago (that) they came before the committee. We raised it with them. It’s harder to prosecute apartheid-era crimes because those people are old now. When they appeared before us a week ago, we raised concern over the slow pace of the prosecution around apartheid-era crimes. We are zooming into this one (at Wednesday’s meeting) because they missed the deadline,” said Magwanishe.

The Cradock Four - Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli - were brutally killed by the apartheid security police in June 1985.

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Former apartheid police officer Joao Rodrigues died recently without being prosecuted for the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol. The case had been dragging in court for some time.

Another case is the murder of MK operative Nokuthula Simelane, who was abducted by the security branch at the Carlton Centre in 1983. Her body was never found, and she was declared dead by the North Gauteng High Court in 2019.

The cases against four former apartheid police officers have been postponed several times.

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Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told Parliament recently, in a written reply, that 55 cases related to apartheid-era atrocities had been referred to the NPA in the jurisdictions where the crimes were committed.

As at May 25, 2021, these cases were all being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), he said.

“A further 59 cases have been identified as warranting investigation, which will be referred to the regions once there is the necessary capacity in the NPA/DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) offices.

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“Cases are referred to the DPCI either because of the public interest which they attract or due to requests being made by relatives of the victims or other interested parties. The cases are referred merely upon request and are not subject to any pre-evaluation process,” said Lamola.

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