TO: All Media
ATT: News Editors, Human Rights Reporters
For immediate release
Monday, 27 September 2021
FAMILIES LAUNCH APPLICATION TO COMPEL THE NPA TO FILE ITS RECORD IN THE CRADOCK FOUR CASE
Press Statement by the Foundation for Human Rights and Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
On Thursday, 23 September 2021, the families of Fort Calata, Sicelo Mhlauli, and Sparrow Mkonto filed an application seeking an order from the High Court in Pretoria compelling the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to deliver the full record upon which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) refused or failed to make a prosecutorial decision in the Cradock Four case (“the record”).
This step followed the main application filed by Lukhanyo Calata, Sindiswa Mkonto and Nombuyiselo Mhlauli on 20 July 2021. That application sought an order:
- Declaring that the ongoing failure or refusal of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and NPA to finalize their investigations and make a prosecutorial decision regarding the kidnapping, torture and murder of Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli and Sparrow Mkonto on 27 June 1985 (“the Cradock Four case”) is unlawful and inconsistent with the Constitution.
- Compelling the NPA and the SAPS to finalise their investigations and to make a prosecutorial decision in respect of the Cradock Four case.
- Reviewing and setting aside the failure or refusal of the NPA to take a prosecutorial decision in the Cradock Four case.
The application was served on the NDPP, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, the National Commissioner of the SAPS and the Minister of Police between 22 July 2021 and 5 August 2021. The four state respondents filed their notices of opposition to the application on 17 August 2021.
Attorneys for the 5th to 17th respondents, the potential suspects in the Cradock Four case, advised that their clients will not oppose the application. These suspects include, former Army officer, Christoffel van der Westhuizen; former Security Branch officers: Hermanus du Plessis, Craig Williamson, Gerrit Erasmus, Izak Engelbrecht and Johan van der Merwe; former Ministers, Deputy Ministers and functionaries who sat on the State Security Council: Adriaan Vlok, Barend du Plessis, FW de Klerk, Lukas Barnard, Daniel Nel and Samuel de Beer.
The 7th respondent, Eric Winter, who was the former head of the Security Branch in Cradock, died on 18 August 2021. His passing before he faced justice robbed the families of the opportunity to hold him to account. This deep injustice underscores the need on the part of the authorities to act with great urgency. Other respondents are elderly and unwell. With every passing day the risk of more murder suspects escaping justice increases exponentially.
In terms of the relief sought by the families, the NPA was required to file its record in the Cradock Four case on 27 August 2021. The NPA failed to deliver its record, thereby forcing the families’ attorneys, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH), to issue a notice on 6 September 2021 requiring compliance by 20 September 2021. The NPA also failed to comply with this notice which prompted CDH to file an application on 23 September 2021 for an order compelling the production of the record. If this order is granted the NPA must deliver its record within 5 days of the grant of the order. Should the NPA also fail to comply with such an order, the families may apply for an order striking out the NPA’s defence.
Once the NPA’s record has been filed and considered, the families are entitled to supplement their founding papers within 2 weeks of such filing. Thereafter, the state respondents will have 30 days from the filing of any supplemented papers to file their answering affidavits.
The conduct of the NPA in ignoring court deadlines in a case of this significance is regrettable. Such conduct serves only to further delay proceedings and to create more obstacles on the long road to justice.
The families view the approach of the NPA in opposing their application, rather than committing to a date for the making of a prosecutorial decision. as unfortunate but unsurprising. It is entirely consistent with the terrible neglect visited upon apartheid-era cases since the winding up of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
For media enquiries contact:
Lindiwe Sibiya, Media and Communication Officer, FHR at email@example.com and 082 634 7154
Foundation for Human Rights
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) is a grant making institution supporting civil society organizations in South Africa and the region that implement programmes which promote and protect human rights. The Foundation’s mission is to address the historical legacy of apartheid, to promote and advance transformation in South Africa and to build a human rights culture using the Constitution as a tool. Over the last two decades FHR has played a major role in promoting the rights of victims of apartheid crimes through supporting the recommendations of the TRC including justice and accountability for past crimes, reparations and access to the TRC archives.
For more information about the case and proceedings contact:
- Foundation for Human Rights: Ahmed Mayet firstname.lastname@example.org or Katarzyna Zdunczyk email@example.com
- Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr: Tim Smit Smit@cdhlegal.com