Witness security imperative

The gruesome murder of a 15-year-old pupil a day after he testified against a gang of housebreakers in Ekurhuleni, is lamentable.

The gruesome murder of a 15-year-old pupil a day after he testified against a gang of housebreakers in Ekurhuleni, is lamentable.

The incident raises the problematic issue of protection of witnesses against intimidation from those intent on subverting the administration of justice.

Thabang Tshilwane's body was found dumped in a veld. Both his arms were broken and shoelaces had been used to fasten plastic bags over his face.

His family believe that his gory death is linked to his appearance in court as a witness in the trial of a gang facing charges of housebreaking and theft.

Protection of witnesses in cases is paramount. Criminals should not be allowed to obstruct justice by intimidating witnesses trying to help police in their fight against the escalating crime wave.

Many criminal cases have foundered in the past as a consequence of the intimidation of witnesses, who would have helped the state to either convict or acquit those accused of having committed a crime.

Witnesses are a crucial cog in the wheels of justice. Those who target them must therefore be made to pay a high price.

In fact such offences must receive the same priority as the crimes committed by those whom the witnesses would have testified against.

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