Ukrainian hiker murder: Cape crime fighters hire top lawyer as accused appear in court
Cape Town - Hout Bay crime-fighters have hired top criminal defence attorney William Booth to address shortcomings in the justice system that releases repeat offenders to terrorise the valley again and again. The most recent justice system failure resulted in the murder of Ukrainian tourist Ivan Ivanov last Saturday.
Ivanov, 44, was fatally stabbed in the chest after a brief struggle for his backpack just 10m from exiting the hiking trail at East Fort on Chapman’s Peak Drive.
This comes as Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane tried to allay fears that South Africa was a dangerous destination for tourists.
She said safety remained a top priority for the government and “the department is currently finalising a safety strategy that will be launched in coming weeks”.
As a memorial service will be held on Sunday for Ivanov, irate activists say the murder would not have happened had the justice system done its job.
The slaying was the last straw in a series of catch and release sagas involving 18 known offenders who, despite the police’s best efforts, get released on bail by the Wynberg courts to re-offend yet again.
Sometimes the repeat offenders appear on the Hout Bay streets again on parole after serving minimal sentences without any alert from Correctional Services.
“I’ve been approached to assist the prosecutor and the NPA as far as I can on behalf of the Hout Bay community,” said Booth, confirming his appointment by the neighbourhood watch Community Crime Prevention.
“My watching brief is to ensure that the court process is correct and that bail is not granted to the three suspects in the Ivanov murder matter. The community want me to make sure that their views are represented in court and that bail is vigorously and effectively opposed.
“It makes total legal and common sense that these suspects don’t get back on the streets to re-offend until their trial is over. You need legal experience in these matters to make sure that doesn’t happen. Often it’s difficult for community members to engage with the prosecution and ensure that their voices are heard.
“They also don’t often know what evidence needs to be gathered to effectively oppose bail. That’s where I can proactively assist the prosecution.”
Booth would not be drawn on whether the three suspects had prior convictions or were out on bail. But reliable sources say they are re-offenders who should have been behind bars. Sources also confirmed that Hout Bay detectives would be in a position to corroborate this by early next week.