NPA determined to deal with Phoenix killings despite delays
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Durban - The National Prosecuting Authority has committed to applying its normal procedures when dealing with Phoenix killing cases despite the pressure applied by a civil group.
This was after a lobby group called Phoenix Justice Project wrote to the National Director of Public Prosecution, Advocate Shamila Batohi, asking her to grant the suspects bail.
The state had denied bail to the majority of the 56 accused who are facing murder and attempted murder charges related to the riots that took place in July.
During proceedings at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, some suspects made appearances on various charges this week.
The state is expected to produce video footage as key evidence in some cases, while it has also lined up witnesses in other cases.
Accused brothers Dylan and Ned Govender and Jeetendra Jaikissoon, who had previously withdrawn their bail application, made a new bail application this week.
The trio is facing murder charges. It is alleged that they attacked five men who were walking on the street in Phoenix during unrest in July.
They were caught on video attacking five men including a 19-year-old Mondli Majola who was shot and killed.
The matter was postponed until next week where the court will decide whether to grant bail or not.
Vegan Paul, founder of PJP, said they felt there was inconsistency with how the NPA was dealing with the unrest cases. He said that while other accused, specifically the alleged instigators had been granted bail, most of the accused from Phoenix remained behind the bars.
In the letter to Advocate Batohi, Paul stated that they were perturbed by the release of key instigators that played a pivotal role in starting the riots.
He was referring to Ngizwe Mchunu and Bonginkosi Khanyile who were both arrested for inciting violence and later released on bail.
“The PJP would like to know why double standards are being applied by the National Prosecuting Authority as the Phoenix accused are being discriminated against by not being afforded a speedy trial,” he said.
Asked whether his organisation understood the seriousness of the charges faced by the accused, he said those facing “petty” crimes such as assault and public disturbance should be released.
“Those facing murder and attempted murder must face the full might of the law. But there are over 50 accused who are still in police custody for no reason.
“We are a civil rights movement that has been contacted by the families of the July unrest and riots. Most of these families reside in the greater Phoenix and Verulam area. We found an urgent need to mobilise our resources and capacity to grant these residents the right or access to justice which is a mandatory obligation by the state,” he said.
Advocate Elaine Zungu, KZN Director of Public Prosecution said although they have not received the letter, all cases would be addressed procedurally.
“I am not aware of such a letter and further representations can be made to our office if there are concerns and we will address them in the procedural way in which we deal with representations,” Zungu.
Zungu would not respond on what was causing delays on other cases.
Paul added that they would take further steps should they not get a response within seven days.