Lack of evidence sees Marikana activist Napoleon Webster cleared of murder
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Mogwase - The North West High Court has found Forum 4 Service Delivery (F4SD) councillor Napoleon Webster not guilty of the murder of Sabata Petros Chale, it was reported on Tuesday.
This comes a day after the State conceded that there was no enough evidence against Fundiwo, Webster, Pungone, Luveli, Msithwa and Soyizwaphi.
Chale was hacked to death on December 8, 2016, in Marikana West, allegedly by Aubrey Seitsang, Sibonile Sobopha, Mdlondozi Fundiwo, Herbert Baqhesi, Webster, William Nyenyane, Aphindile Pungone, Samson Gqwetani, Gift Luveli, Nkululeko Msithwa, Nkosindiphile Nziyose, Luvo Soyizwaphi, Sivuyile Qasha and Mzolisi Mbulana.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI) in a statement confirmed that Webster had been discharged after the State failed to produce any evidence linking him to the murder.
SERI) represented Webster during the trial.
READ: Six of 14 Marikana accused could be discharged over lack of evidence
"Prosecutors ultimately conceded that Webster was entitled to an acquittal, and accepted that the State had failed to 'establish [Webster’s] involvement' in the murder. The State also accepted that the witnesses who implicated Webster had testified out of malice and lacked any credibility.
"Despite there being no evidence that Webster committed any offence, he was detained in a Rustenburg prison in 2017 for over 202 days after the Rustenburg Magistrates’ court refused his bail application.
SERI further added: "Throughout the bail proceedings and the trial, there was strong evidence that Webster was arrested because of his community-based activism in Marikana and not on the basis of any reasonable suspicion that he committed an offence.
"Webster has been an active supporter of the victims of the Marikana massacre and was a consistent presence at the proceedings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry."
Adding to this was SERI attorney Lindokuhle Mdabe, who said: “The State’s failure to produce any evidence linking Webster to this offence is clear evidence that this prosecution was brought, not to punish crime, but to stifle legitimate dissent in Marikana.
"The prosecution, and the way it has been pursued, is yet another example of the abuse of the criminal justice system in aid of silencing the real and legitimate grievances of people living in poor communities across South Africa.”