Activists and daughter appeal for murder case to be reopened after not guilty verdict
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Cape Town - Community activists, family and policing structures are appealing for the case of Shakoor Roberts to be recalled to the court roll after he was found not guilty.
Roberts received a not guilty verdict on Friday at the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court after being on trial for six years for the murder of his mother, Gafsa Roberts, 61.
Gafsa’s body was discovered by residents hidden inside a dirt bin outside her home in Tafelsig in March 2015.
The mother had been missing for three days before her body was found.
State pathologists indicated that Gafsa had been strangled to death and suffered blunt trauma.
The case was struck off the roll after magistrate Mary Jacwtu reached her verdict stating that there was insufficient evidence gathered by the State.
The magistrate stated that a cellphone recording of an alleged confession which was deemed inaudible had not been transcribed formally by the instruction of the detective or the State prosecutor.
The alleged confession was recorded by relatives who became witnesses.
In the recording, Roberts speaks Afrikaans stating that he had made an Islamic recital to prepare his mother for death and said he had allegedly killed her on the Friday and made everyone believe that she had left for Hanover Park
She also echoed that witness statements were unreliable including a protection order, which Gafsa had taken out in 2015.
Just days after the verdict was reached, Gafsa’s daughter, Rushaana Adams, wrote a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.
The letter read ”What has become of our justice system and in fighting gender-based violence when your judges cannot do the simple thing in upholding the dignity and memory of slain women and children? It is with disgust and disappointment that I am writing to you about the gruesome injustice of my mother being murdered at the hand of her own son, thrown in a bin and walking free due to a lack of evidence. A lack of evidence your law teams bungled and allowed the perpetrator to walk over the graves of every woman and child that died due GBV.
“This case has dragged on for more than six years, with a disappointing result. A result that is in stark contrast to what you stand for. But this is also testament of how your government has failed GBV.
“My brother has been acquitted from all charges relating to the gruesome murder he committed on her.
“Your justice system has failed every woman and girl child and have given rise in the notion that our justice condones murder. My mother Gafsa Roberts and the accused has left a bitter taste in the mouths of our family and the rest of Cape Town, who have been supporting us as a family.
“How is it possible that Judge Jacwtu can set a guilty man free is beyond me. Your justice system has failed us. Her killer is now free to commit more crimes and that will be on you and your judge.
“What is even sadder that a delinquent, a school drop out beat a justice system that supposedly have learned people in it and operating it.
“Your justice system has become and is a joke that someone like that could win against the State. I dare to say that our justice system is broken. Those involved in my mothers’ case should hang their heads in shame and a proper investigation into the failed attempts of prosecuting the only guilty party in this case should be investigated and punished. How do you get away with murder and win ... is something a school dropout has shown you.
“We cannot believe that the justice system has been bamboozled by a criminal who allegedly murdered his own mother.
“My mother is being failed by those who should uphold the law and it is very disappointing that we stand on the verge of her killer being released. We as a family implore and beg of you, minister, to intervene and show the larger community that you care for the family of those who died tragically at the hands of other family members.
“We are appealing to you to look at the prosecuting team involved in this case and give us someone that is competent and capable of bringing the perpetrator to book. Please assist us and reopen this case, we want justice and she and my mother deserves justice.
“Please, Mr President hear our call. We need you to intervene and keep the case on the court roll. Please can we have a response to this letter within seven (7) days on the way forward.“
Community activist Hanif Loonat said they were preparing letters to the Minister’s Office and called for the case to be placed back on the court roll stating that prosecutors needed to be educated on how to present cases.
“I am disgusted with our courts. Corruption, collusion and ineffectiveness are the causes of cases getting thrown out or criminals getting let off the hook unjustly.
“I can mention many cases where the investigating officer has put a strong case forward and the courts find feeble reasons to throw it out.
“We need to start speaking out. We need to start an organisation called the Friends of the Complainants.
“I am sick of hearing how justice is trampled on. Injustice is bought cheaply. Attorneys run our courts. Prosecutors are told how to handle cases.
“Weak prosecution authority are also causing this. Life in certain areas has no regard from our authority. They treat our people with contempt.
“Knowing that the cost of an appeal cost thousands they persist with their unjust behaviour. We must get the Minister of Justice to allow reviews on cases thrown out at no cost.
“I am busy with the Minister's office to get an inquiry on courts in the Western Cape. especially the Metro.”
Sandy Schuter Flowers, of the Strandfontein Policing Forum, who has also joined hands with Loonat, confirmed that they have filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, proposing to have the case reopened.