Seven months after the deaths of Sakhile Mazibuko and Khaya Nkolongwane in Protea Glen, the families of the two friends say no police officer has visited them nor have their cases been heard in court.
Sakhile and Khaya, both aged 21, were knocked down by a speeding car allegedly driven by an off-duty Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officer on June 19 2021, on their way to a friend's birthday celebration.
The families have alleged that there are numerous witnesses who claim that the car was speeding and that they could identify the driver because they see him walking up and down the streets of Protea Glen regularly.
But JMPD's spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said that since the accident happened when the officer was off-duty, they are waiting for the courts to decide his fate before his department can act.
“We can confirm that there are two counts of culpable homicide against him. The case and charges are pending at the Protea police station. The person who is able to tell you more about those charges is the investigating officer at Protea Glen station. We can't act against him until the courts have found him guilty, then there will be an internal process,” he said.
Sakhile’s father, Mandla Mazibuko, told The Sunday Independent that he has been living a lonely life since his son’s death. Sakhile is his last born child, Mazibuko says, and he has lived for him. Life now life seems meaningless since Sakhile has gone, he says.
“The reason I woke up every morning to go to work was because of Sakhile. I have nothing to lose now,” he said.
While dealing with the pain of losing a child, the father says he has also had to deal with uncaring police who have been dragging their feet since the accident happened and still nobody has been charged.
“The way the investigating officers have treated us gave us a sense that the lives of two innocent boys meant nothing to our officials. It is like two dogs died, and the world continues,” the grieving father said.
What aggrieves Mazibuko more is that there have been no arrests and no court appearances and his pain gets aggravated when he sees or hears about the alleged killer going about his life while his own son’s life was cut short prematurely.
“I remember one day I had returned from the local soccer grounds and I was standing with a friend. A JMPD van passed by and hooted at us. That deeply hurt me because I just watched my son's killer drive past with no care in the world while I was grieving.
“These occurrences have become so frequent, hearing or bumping into him, that I feel let down by the police of South Africa,” he said while accusing the police of protecting the culprit because he is a member of the force.
The case has since been moved to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) after he claimed that the investigating officer who was initially assigned to their case had forged three statements from random people to help paint the narrative that the boys were drunk on the night.
“One of the statements is said to be written by the owner of the house where the party was staged that night. In the statement, the owner claimed that the boys arrived at the party that night drunk, but the guy (owner of the house) messaged my younger brother to refute that statement.
“He said he only recalls being asked two questions: ’If the house is indeed his home and if the party was staged there’, and then was made to sign a blank page. The house owner was in the North West on the day of the accident and only found out about the accident on social media,” he said.
Mazibuko has further alleged that the second statement was taken from the second brother who happens to smoke nyaope, who claimed to have been chilling with the two friends, and they were drinking from 9am until 8pm on the day they died.
“All this doesn't make sense, especially because my son was playing a semi-final soccer match at around 3pm and arrived at home at 6pm. When he asked to go to the party, I told him he couldn't leave until he cooked. He cooked first, and I told him since it's at night, he must return early because there is a curfew. Fifteen minutes after he left, people came rushing in to tell me that he had been hurt,” he said.
As an avid soccer player, Sakhile's dreams were cut short by just a day before he was to sign a professional contract with MDC Arrows.
Mazibuko said the investigative offer had promised them that the culprit would be imprisoned by the end of that day (in June), but he ignored their calls when they followed up three days later.
“When we finally located him by going to the station for an update, he said that ’as an investigator, he doesn't go around arresting people and that no one leaves their home with their car intending to kill someone’. That statement not only broke me but showed me that we are alone as a family,” he alleged.
Ipid spokesperson Sarah Langa said the delay in the matter was with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). She said they were still waiting for a decision from the NPA, and until then, there was nothing Ipid investigators could do.
“Ipid has completed its role. Therefore, the matter is not ours anymore, but the NPA, please check with NPA what are their delays,” she said.
However, the NPA spokesperson Phindi Louw-Mjonondwane said the organisation does not have the docket.
“We have no record of such a docket being brought to us. If they can tell which office and who signed for the docket, it would be easier to trace the information,” she said.
Khaya's mother Thembi Nkolongwane, also shared her pain and asked how two children could just die with no repercussions.
“Are we so meaningless to the lawmakers that our plight is not taken seriously? How we are being treated is painful. All we want is an arrest to be made and the case to be heard in court,” she said.