To: All Media
ATT: News Editors, Human Rights Reporters
For Immediate Release
Date: 22 November 2023
Trial date set for the three accused charged with the murder of anti-apartheid activist Caiphus Nyoka
Press Statement by the Foundation for Human Rights and Webber Wentzel
On 20 November 2023, three former Security Branch members: Johan Marais, Leon Louis van den Berg and Abram Hercules Engelbrecht appeared in the High Court sitting at the Benoni Magistrates’ Court, for the murder of apartheid activist Caiphus Nyoka.
At this appearance the decision of the National Director of Public Prosecutions to dismiss the representations by the second and third accused to have the charges against them be withdrawn, was placed on record.
The additional charge of ‘conspiracy to commit murder’ was added to the indictment against all three accused. The matter has now been postponed to 19 February 2024 for a pre-trial hearing, and the trial has been set for 22 April 2024 to 3 May 2024.
Caiphus Nyoka was a student activist and a member of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS). On 24 August 1987, he was shot dead by police in the early hours of the morning at his family home in Daveyton. An inquest into his death in October 1988 ruled that the police had acted in self-defence, despite family members asserting that Nyoka did not have a weapon on him when they shot him nine times. Nyoka’s sister, Alegria Nyoka appeared before the TRC in 1997 demanding an investigation into his killing. In late 2019, Johan Marais confessed to a Rapport journalist that he had killed Nyoka in cold blood more than 30 years before.
The prosecution of apartheid era crimes, where perpetrators either did not apply for, or were not granted amnesty, has been beset by political interference and extraordinary delays.
Nyoka was murdered more than 35 years ago. Despite Marais’ confession in 2019, the NPA only decided to institute charges against the surviving perpetrators, in 2022. The matter has since been delayed by the finalisation of the NPA’s investigation and the period of consideration by the National Director of Public Prosecutions of the representations made by the second and third accused to have the charges against them be withdrawn.
For media enquiries contact:
Mx Kholekile Mnisi, Media and Communications Specialist, Foundation for Human Rights (FHR), at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0656130977
For more information contact:
Ms Odette Geldenhuys, a legal representative for the Nyoka Family, at email@example.com
For more information on the Unfinished Business of the TRC Programme, contact Gina Snyman at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the “Unfinished Business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission” Programme that is run by the Foundation for Human Rights consult our website: https://unfinishedtrc.co.za
Foundation for Human Rights
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) is a non-profit human rights organisation that works to protect and promote human rights in South Africa. The FHR was established in 1996 to address the historical legacy of apartheid, and to promote and advance transformation and human rights based on the new constitution. The FHR implements four main human rights programmes: the Access to Justice Programme, the Gender Justice Programme, the Unfinished Business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Programme, and the Community Engagement Programme. Over the last two decades, the FHR has played a major role in promoting the rights of victims of apartheid crimes through supporting the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), including justice and accountability for past crimes, reparations, and access to the TRC archives.
Webber Wentzel Pro-Bono Unit
Webber Wentzel Pro Bono Unit headed by Ms Odette Geldenhuys, provides free legal services to marginalised and vulnerable individuals and groups. Attorneys from the Webber Wentzel Pro Bono Team have acted as legal representatives in a number of post-TRC matters and have played an instrumental role in moving the cases forward. The post-TRC cases that are supported by Webber Wentzel include the matters of Nokuthula Simelane, Adriano Louis Bambo and Caiphus Nyoka. In the past, Webber Wentzel Pro Bono Team acted as attorneys of record in the Ahmed Timol, COSAS 4 ,Dr Neil Aggett and Imam Haron matters.