Eastern Cape family travels 900km to seek help from AfriForum
When the two men arrived in Joburg, early Monday morning, they figured out how to catch a taxi to Centurion.
In Centurion, they found the office they were looking for, and there the village elder and son, who claimed his father was assassinated, waited.
They didn’t have an appointment, but they came to the offices of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit because, like the family of murdered Bafana Bafana football captain Senzo Meyiwa, they had lost faith in the police.
The two men were not alone.
In the days after AfriForum announced they would assist the Meyiwa family in investigating the murder, 118 people approached the civil rights organisation for help in solving their crimes.
“Most of the approaches we have had are related to families who have suffered massive personal disasters, kidnappings, children who have gone missing, bodies missing, murders,” says one of the investigators with the unit, Andrew Leask.
The families that did approach, usually did so through phone calls to the unit.
The two men from the Eastern Cape were a surprise.
“I have been policing for 36 years, and I have never had a situation like this where someone has made such a journey,” says Leask.
Through translators, the investigators were able to piece together why the two men had made that journey.
The two explained that on September 26, last year, the young man’s father was shot.
In the same incident, the young man’s sister was shot several times after she struggled with the shooter.
His little brother, aged between four and five, was shot in the hand during the attack.
“The person who committed the assassination, they said, they found out who he was. He was confronted, and he was called in by the village, and he made a confession, telling them why he had to do it. He also told them who had instructed him,” explains Leask. “Also, the sister who was wounded identified the shooter.”
The men went on to say that the police did arrest the alleged assassin, but only convicted him on possession of a home-made firearm.
“They said they never received any feedback on the murder case,” says Leask. Further tragedy was to strike the family this year when the mother was murdered.
“They also seem to have good leads as to why the mother was shot,” explains Leask.
The shooting of the father, appears to be related to a chieftaincy dispute.
It is not just new cases that have been coming in to the private prosecution unit, since the announcement last week of them investigating the Meyiwa murder.
Leads have been trickling in too.
“Fortunately, there have been a number of people in the police and formally in the police who have information and have contacted us.
“We have certain plans and strategies in plans in place which we will announce in the future,” explains Kallie Kriel, the CEO of AfriForum.
Kriel added that their plan was to assist the police in the investigation.
“We have already written to the minister of police and police commissioner, indicating that we hope to work with them.
“The most important thing is that the case must be solved,” says Kriel.
Criminologist Gareth Newham believes there is the possibility that a private investigation might just have the advantage of providing access to new leads in the Meyiwa case.
This, in a case that remains open after five years.
“There might be people willing to talk to external investigators and not the police. There are a lot of rumours that police are covering it up.
“So there might be witnesses that might come forward to an independent investigation party,” he says.
The problem with a private investigation, Newham adds, is that ultimately they would have to hand evidence over to the police.
AfriForum insists that they are trying to maintain a good relationship with the SAPS.
In the case of the alleged Mtontsasa murder, investigators are first approaching the Eastern Cape SAPS.
“This to give them an opportunity to explain what the situation is,” says Leask.
It is the first step. Depending on what the SAPS has done in the case, the Private Prosecution Unit might in the future dispatch a team to the Eastern Cape to gather additional evidence.
For the two men, their journey had been a success. The unit had taken their case.
That Monday night, they were on the bus back to the Eastern Cape.
They would be sharing the news with the community that two alleged killers could soon be facing justice.