Justice for Khayelitsha
According to the activists, including the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Free Gender and the Social Justice Coalition, the trial has been delayed more than 27 times since Nkonyana’s murder four years ago.
Nknonyana, who lived in Khayelitsha, was attacked and stabbed to death because she was a lesbian. According to reports she was attacked after she allegedly refused to use a men’s toilet at a Khayelitsha shebeen. Nine men have been arrested in connection with the crime.
Activists and members of the community marched to the Western Cape Provincial Legislature in the city centres and voiced their dissatisfaction over crimes not being solved in their community. They intended to hand over a memorandum to the Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz.
Amelia Mfiki, spokesperson for the TAC said the justice system’s handling of cases in townships was shocking.
“The TAC is frustrated about the way the justice system handled the cases of black women in the township. It is shocking that the system allows for perpetrators to go free and unpunished leaving the victims further victimised,” she said.
She said there were numerous other cases of unsolved crimes in the area.
“In some cases perpetrators have been freed because dockets were lost. In this particular case (Nkonyana’s case) the police forgot to lock the holding cell leading to at least four of the murder accused fleeing,” she said.
The four men were re-arrested and a member of the police force has also been charged with aiding their escape.
Gavin Silber of the Social Justice Coalition blamed lack of capacity for some of the hold ups in solving the crimes.
“We know that Zolizwa’s case is not an isolated incident there are many other cases that have been delayed. We also know that not all those working in the justice system are corrupt. There are people who are trying to do their work to the best of their ability. The justice system is overburdened and under resourced,” he said.
Nthosh Khunjuzwa, a Khayelitsha resident said community members were fed up with the slow hand of the justice system.
“We feel sad as community members. This case has dragged on since 2006. Up until now nothing has happened. While Zoliswa was a lesbian she was also human and had the right to do whatever she wanted to do,” she said.
“We are not proposing for the accused to be given a death sentence. We just want the perpetrators to be punished accordingly,” she said.
Nkonyana’s case will be heard again on October, 14.
Accepting the memorandum on behalf of Fritz, Dr Gilbert Lawrence head of Community Safety said he could not promise that all the issues would be addressed right away. He assured the activists that they would get a response from Fritz and his department by next week Thursday.
Funeka Soldaat, spokesperson for Free Gender said: “If the next court hearing does not commence as expected we will make the justice system uncomfortable.”
Some of the demands the group called for included:
1.1. Visible policing throughout the townships and informal settlements.
1.2. Improved communication between the police, courts, the victims and their families. Victims and their families should be notified regularly about the details of their cases and should have reasonable access to the investigating officer.
1.3. An investigation into the above cases and others. In particular regarding the granting of bail to suspects charged with schedule 5 and/or schedule 6 crimes, and regarding the granting of bail to a suspect who had recently violated the terms of a previous bail release.
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