A file picture of former Soweto Special Branch members Tim Radebe, Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederik Mong, who go on trial in October for the murder of anti-apartheid activist Nokuthula Simelane.     Thobile Mathonsi  African News Agency (ANA)
A file picture of former Soweto Special Branch members Tim Radebe, Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederik Mong, who go on trial in October for the murder of anti-apartheid activist Nokuthula Simelane. Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

Trial dates for ‘activist Nokuthula Simelane's killers’

By ZELDA VENTER Time of article published Jan 29, 2020

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Pretoria - The former apartheid-era security branch members implicated in the death of activist Nokuthula Simelane are at last expected to go on trial in October - 37 years after her disappearance.

The body of Simelane was never found, but the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, last year declared her to be presumably dead.

Simelane would have turned 61 in September. She was allegedly abducted and tortured by former apartheid-era security branch members in 1983.

The four implicated in her death - Msebenzi Radebe, Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederik Mong - appeared in court on several occasions, but their trial was time and again postponed.

This was mostly due to several applications launched by the accused, which included a successful application that the police had to pay for their trial, as the charges against them stem from a time when they were still police officers.

The elderly men yet again briefly appeared in court yesterday. The prosecution told Judge Bert Bam that it was ready to proceed. The trial date was set down for October 5 to 30.

Counsel for the accused said they were still waiting for a long outstanding judgment on one of their many applications regarding the case. This concerned an objection by the defence that the earlier findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) be used during this trial.

It is forming part of the case docket, but the defence wants it removed and declared that it should not be used.

The accused are facing, among others, a murder charge after Simelane was allegedly abducted in the parking area of the Carlton Centre in Joburg.

It is claimed the then 23-year-old was brutally tortured and died at the hands of security agents.

Her family had been waiting for answers for more than three decades.

Former national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams decided to prosecute the four accused for her murder based on evidence gathered by the NPA’s priority crimes litigation unit following the TRC hearings.

The four were earlier released on R5000 bail each. Simelane was, during her disappearance, a university graduate and a courier for Umkhonto we Sizwe, the then military wing of the ANC.

She moved between Swaziland and South Africa.

It is claimed that she was betrayed by one of her own, abducted and brutally tortured by the security branch of the former SAPS in September 1983.

She was never seen again.

Her sister Thembi Nkadimeng earlier said they knew from the TRC hearings that Simelane suffered terribly at the hands of the secret branch.

“We know that she refused to collaborate with the forces of apartheid. For this she paid the ultimate price.”

The family are desperately awaiting answers as to what exactly happened to her.

Pretoria News

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