State ordered to pay legal fees of murder accused
Publish date: 11 June 2018
Issue Number: 777
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
In a decision that will have been closely-watched by many, not least former President Jacob Zuma's legal team, the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) has ordered the South African Police Service to pay the legal costs of former officers accused of murdering Umkhonto weSizwe operative Nokuthula Simelane in 1983, notes Legalbrief. The Foundation for Human Rights said last week's ruling ‘establishes an important principle in the quest to finally hold those perpetrators of human rights violations who evaded the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process, or had amnesty applications declined, accountable for their crimes’. A News24 report notes Simelane was allegedly abducted, detained and tortured by former apartheid-era Soweto security branch members in 1983. Three of the security police officers, Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederick Mong, were granted amnesty by the TRC for Simelane's abduction and detention. A fourth officer, Tim Radebe, never applied for amnesty. The foundation said Pretorius found that the state had ‘abysmally failed’ Simelane and her family. Head of the foundation and former TRC commissioner Yasmin Sooka said the ruling was a confirmation that the three accused were not on a ‘private frolic of their own but were part of the apartheid state's apparatus’. ‘While we are pleased that former security policemen have been indicted for her murder and now hope for a speedy trial, these three ought not to be the only ones. At what point will the NPA indict those at command level?’ In 2016, after 32 years of fighting, the four were charged with Simelane's murder, following a decision by the NPA to pursue the case.