Police reservists ‘intimidated’ witness regarding Phoenix killings
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DURBAN - THE State is expected to produce a video and add two more witnesses in the case against two Phoenix police reservists who allegedly tried to influence a witness to change his statement regarding six murders in the north Durban suburb during the July unrest.
Ivan Govender and Moses Peters are facing intimidation and defeating the ends of justice charges. The pair appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and the matter was postponed until November 10 for the State to obtain the video and statements from the two witnesses.
Prosecutor Xolani Cele had asked for the postponement.
The accused are represented by attorney Chris Gounden. They are out on R5 000 bail each.
The State alleges that Govender and Peters went to the witness's workplace on July 28 to influence the witness to amend his statement he had made earlier regarding the killing of six people during the July unrest. The men allegedly intimidated the witness after he had refused to co-operate. The witness later informed the members of the special task team investigating the Phoenix murders. The task team was specially assembled by Police Minister Bheki Cele.
The two suspects later handed themselves over to the police.
Also in the Verulam court were the three men accused of attacking five men in Phoenix during the unrest and who had abandoned their bail application last month, but have changed their minds and will be re-applying for bail on Friday.
Brothers Dylan and Ned Govender and Jeetendra Jaikissoon appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, where their attorney told the court they were ready to make their new bail application.
They face murder and attempted murder charges. The State alleges that the trio attacked five men who were walking on a road in Phoenix during the July unrest. They were allegedly seen in a video clip attacking the five men and 19-year-old Mondli Majola was shot and killed. The Govenders had new legal representation after their previous lawyer withdrew from the matter.
The court was packed and some members of the media could not get inside.
Angered by the duration of the pursuit of justice, Mondli Majola’s mother, Nombuso Majola, told the media outside the court that she wanted to see the people responsible for her son’s murder “rot in jail”.
Majola said she wanted justice.
“It seems nothing is happening. It seems we’ve been shut out and it seems like we are not important. We just want justice to be done. Right now, they keep on postponing but I don't know for what.
“There is a video that says that Mondli was murdered so why is it taking them so long to give the verdict,” Majola said.
Recalling the last time she saw her son alive, she said: “My son came home at around 9 o’clock on (that) Monday. He said he was hungry so I made him something to eat. We talked and joked around because he was always full of jokes. Then he said to me: ’You know what, Mummy, people are going crazy.’
“So he said to me: ’I need to study and get you out of this place.’
“That was the last thing he said to me. He left and never came back. That was the last time I saw my son.”
Justice for African Victims chairperson Jackie Shandu, in an address outside court, said his organisation was in discussions with their lawyers and would soon file a class action against the State.
He felt the State had dismally failed to protect citizens and must be held accountable.
“It was also surprising that the government had compensated businesses whose properties were destroyed, but had not done the same to the victims. The government is putting the cart before the horse by talking peace before justice.
“Government must tell us where the police were for a full four days, to protect the people who were being butchered. All the government was concerned about was peace, but we say peace must be the product of justice. You cannot expect the families who lost their loved ones to have peace while justice has not been served,” Shandu said.
National convener for the ANC Youth League Nonceba Mhlauli said: “We thought that it's important as young people for us to come here today to really support our justice system and get to the bottom of what actually happened in Phoenix, the people who lost their lives and ensure the people responsible are brought to book.”
Meanwhile, in a letter written by Vegan Paul, the leader of Durban-based lobby group Phoenix Justice Project (PJP), to the Director of Public Prosecutions Shamilla Batohi, he said they have been approached by families of the accused to demand speedy justice from the State.
Currently, 56 suspects have been arrested for the murders that included shooting, hacking, beating to death and the burning of the victims.
“The Criminal Procedure Act makes provision/availability of the right to bail … We seek a detailed report of those that were arrested in the Phoenix and surrounding area for the alleged crimes committed.
“We also seek information on the murders committed in the Phoenix and surrounding areas like Tashleen Moodley who lost her son in the riots, Fabian Moodley, LeeAnne Damons that lost her father Gans Reddy who was patrolling and serving his community and many others. A list will be compiled and a further application will be made to your office in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act and Promotion of Administrative Justice Act,” Paul wrote.
Paul felt that if other suspects accused of instigating violence such as #FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile could be granted bail, then those accused of the Phoenix massacre should be granted bail. “The PJP would like to know why double standards are being applied by the National Prosecuting Authority as the Phoenix accused are being discriminated against by not being afforded a speedy trial.
“Furthermore, there are videos circulating of a Special Task Team assaulting alleged suspects and homes being raided and ransacked without a warrant. This has traumatised the children and the community at large. The families of the Phoenix accused are being severely prejudiced as some of the accused are breadwinners and this is compromising the well-being of the families. It has become evident that incarceration is being used as a form of punishment.”
Bishop Vusi Dube of eThekwini Community Church reminded Paul that they would continue to demand justice. “It’s a pity that our black people who were killed and massacred cannot speak for themselves. But we will be their mouthpiece. Justice has to be done without favour,” Dube said.