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Groups demand re-opening of apartheid-era inquests

Publish date: 14 May 2018
Issue Number: 773
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

The Foundation for Human Rights, the Legal Resources Centre, law firm Webber Wentzel, former investigators from the International Criminal Court and families whose relatives were killed, are demanding the reopening of inquests into the killings of anti-apartheid activists. This follows the successful overturning last year of the findings of the original inquest into the 1971 death of SA Communist Party member Ahmed Timol, from suicide to murder, notes the Sunday Times. The foundation has a list of more than 300 such cases, which it said was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cover-ups of apartheid murders. In these cases the Truth and Reconciliation Commission either did not grant amnesty to those behind the murders or no one applied for it. Investigators have short-listed 22 cases for immediate action, and these have been handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks, with eight under investigation. Yasmin Sooka, a former TRC commissioner now with the foundation, said she could only hope that the recent change in political leadership would result in ‘some urgency'. But she is doubtful, says the report. ‘Ten years ago, we had to go to court to stop the NDPP (National Director of Public Prosecutions) from proceeding with a prosecution policy that provided a backdoor amnesty to perpetrators. We also had to go to the Constitutional Court to stop a political pardon process that again bent over backwards for perpetrators, but excluded victims. It has been one uphill battle after another.’ NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku reportedly said a decision had been taken to assign additional manpower to the priority crimes litigation unit to ensure that investigations in respect of the TRC matters that are conducted by the Hawks are fast-tracked.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)