NPA looking at apartheid-era killings

National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams.
National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams.

The National Prosecuting Authority is to prioritise the prosecution of people linked to the murders of anti-apartheid activists.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams revealed in parliament yesterday that there were about 15 cases the state was considering for possible prosecution, including the murders of Victoria Mxenge, the Cradock Four and trade union leader Neil Aggett, among others.

"We are absolutely committed to delivering justice to the victims of crime, especially the victims of past atrocities," Abrahams told journalists at a press conference held before the presentation - by Minister Michael Masutha - of the budget policy statement of the justice department.

Abrahams said it was regrettable that matters arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had not been given "the preference they should have been given in years gone by" but that significant progress has been made in the past three years in addressing them.

"I personally made a decision that the perpetrators in respect to the disappearance of [Umkhonto weSizwe combatant] Nokuthula Simelane must be prosecuted.

"I personally made the decision and recommendation to the minister of justice in relation to the reopening of the inquest into [anti-apartheid activist] Ahmed Timol's matter," he added.

The inquest into Timol's murder was reopened last year and it found that he was murdered and did not commit suicide.

It also recommended that three individuals be investigated for possible prosecution.

Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery said he has been raising regular concern with Abrahams as there were recommendations for three people to be charged.

"The Nokuthula Simelane matter is in court, those people have been charged but there are delays as there is dispute around legal representation," said Jeffery.

Abrahams said recommendations have been made to him in respect of the Aggett murder and he has referred the matter back to the prosecutors and directed that further investigation be conducted.

He also sought to assure SABC journalist Lukhanyo Calata that "TRC matters" were high on the NPA's priority list.

Lukhanyo, the son of Fort Calata - a UDF activist who is one of the Cradock Four murdered by the South African police in 1985 - had asked Masutha about the government's commitment to ensure justice for victims' families.

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