South Africa
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NPA slammed for 'ignoring' deadline for prosecutorial decision on Cradock Four murders

In an affidavit last year, Calata brought a matter of a missing investigation docket compiled by a now-retired detective who spent eight years gathering information that may have been vital to the NPA’s case.

“It vanished in 2017 after it was requested by the office of disgraced former acting national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba,” Calata said.

In a letter to the families’ legal representatives Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, dated November 9, the state attorney wrote: “The first respondent [Batohi] undertakes to make a decision, whether or not to prosecute, not later than December 2 2021.”

“This very commitment was also confirmed before the deputy judge president in the North Gauteng Division, Judge Aubrey Ledwaba, in a case management meeting between Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and the NPA in October this year,” said Calata.

“Due to the NPA’s failure to keep their word, we have no other option but to resume litigation as directed by Deputy Judge President Ledwaba,” said Calata.

He said the NPA will now have to file its answering papers to the families’ original application by December 13 and the two sides are now required to agree to dates for a hearing in the first quarter of 2022.

“This latest delay comes just weeks after the death of former apartheid president FW De Klerk. The NPA had failed to charge him despite his clear links to the Cradock Four murders.

“There’s no doubt now that Batohi and the NPA are stalling for time, hoping that other suspects such as Adriaan Vlok, Joffel van der Westhuizen, Barend du Plessis, and Craig Williamson also die before they’re prosecuted for their roles in the murders of my father and his comrades, but we won’t allow that,” said Calata.

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The Fort Calata Foundation has expressed disappointment with the NPA for missing a deadline to provide the families of the Cradock Four victims with an update on their case.

The foundation said it was especially “disgusted and disappointed” with NPA boss Adv Shamila Batohi for missing the deadline set to provide the families of Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sparro Mkonto and Sicelo Mhauli with a prosecutorial decision in relation to their murders.

Multiple attempts to get comment from the NPA were not responded to. This story will be updated if a comment is received.

The four anti-apartheid activists known as the Cradock Four were abducted and murdered by the security police in June 1985.

The families and Lukhanyo Calata, the foundation's spokesperson, approached the NPA in May last year to make a final prosecutorial decision.

A deadline of July 10, 2020, came and went, but the NPA did engage more proactively with them and offer a semblance of an active investigation.

But with the death of Goniwe’s widow Nyameka in August last year and little evidence of any real progress, the families said they had run out of patience.