GNU ‘must depoliticise justice and policing after killing by cop’

Human rights activist and violence monitor Mary de Haas has pleaded with the GNU to depoliticise justice and policing in the country. Picture: Supplied

Human rights activist and violence monitor Mary de Haas has pleaded with the GNU to depoliticise justice and policing in the country. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 7, 2024


THE newly-formed Government of National Unity (GNU) has been asked to deal with a cover-up for criminals and to depoliticise justice and policing after a warrant officer who was accused of killing 16-year-old Kwazi Ndlovu was acquitted.

Human rights and violence monitor activist Mary de Haas said the GNU should prioritise this because it was long overdue.

De Haas made these remarks in a statement after the court in the case against the warrant officer accused of killing Ndlovu ruled in his favour after he was found not guilty.

Ndlovu died under questionable circumstances when armed members of the controversial Durban Organised Crime Unit burst into his home at Esikhawini in Empangeni on the North Coast and fired shots in his direction.

Ndlovu was shot while sleeping on a couch.

The members of the unit, famously known as the Cato Manor Death Squad, later claimed that they were in pursuit of a prison escapee who was believed to be in hiding in Ndlovu’s home.

They also made statements alleging that the teenager was armed when he was shot dead, which was refuted by the members of the community.

Last week, the Durban Magistrate’s Court said the State had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused, Gonasagren Padayachee, was the shooter.

The judgment was made without forensic evidence in the form of ballistics.

However, de Haas said the deliberate omission of crucial ballistics and forensic evidence, as well as the failure to call and cross-examine police members who were at the scene smacks of a deliberate cover-up.

De Haas said only Padayachee was charged despite those who were present having acted in common purpose.

“It is the end of a long road, in which the parents of the boy have suffered secondary victimisation at the hands of the police and the NPA. After 14 years of extreme suffering, and lack of any closure, the parents have accepted defeat and want to put it behind them,” she wrote.

NPA’s regional communications director in KZN, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said the prosecuting authority declined to comment on the statement.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Phaladi Shuping also did not comment.

De Haas said the trial against Padayachee happened in a racially charged context, in which negotiations about the GNU had been characterise by toxic anti-white racism on the part of some parties elected to Parliament, including an impeached judge.

She said this case was one of many in which a black government has covered for apartheid-era killers who were known in the 1980s and 1990s to kill and torture black people, including liberation fighters, with impunity.

She said despite the existence of damning evidence, an attempt was made to get the parents to agree to an inquest being held.

De Haas added that this was one of the cases that raised important questions about “our” seriously malfunctioning justice system.

“The poor excuse for what was supposed to be a prosecution was handled by an experienced senior prosecutor. This begs the question of whether the prosecution service was simply taking political instructions, for it is known that ministers continue to interfere, operationally, in the running of their departments,” De Haas said.

She added that it was also known that there were prima facie cases against politicians which have not been prosecuted.

She said the inescapable conclusion was that, given the political capture of the NPA, it was politicians who were driving cover-ups, as well as malicious prosecutions.

De Haas said the situation could not be allowed to continue, adding that justice and police had to be urgently de-politicised.

“A purge of the Prosecuting Authority, starting with management members who have demonstrated their contempt for the constitutional right to justice of all South Africans, and covered up for criminals, is long overdue and a priority for the new GNU,” she said.

De Haas added that another priority for this new government was to take constructive action on the issue of racism, pursuing nation-building in a nonracial society.

She said the real, extremely dangerous face of racism was not in obnoxious rhetoric by bigots who need rehabilitation, but in allowing the justice system to keep covering up for racist killers.

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