No evidence to suggest that Glebelands killings are political – NPA

2018-02-22 16:54
Glebelands Hostel. (Gallo Images)

Glebelands Hostel. (Gallo Images)

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Durban – A senior deputy director at the National Prosecuting Authority has said that the infamous Glebelands Hostel killings are not political.

Advocate Thulani Selepe made the statement while testifying at the Moerane Commission in Mayville, Durban, on Thursday.

"Glebelands has been reported as a place that perpetrates political killings. Looking at the dockets, it is clearly purely criminal activity. The evidence goes nowhere near political killings. There is no indication that there are political killings in Glebelands Hostel," he said.

Selepe said that he sympathised with the challenges facing the hostel, calling it a place that "has been a problem for years".

"It keeps one awake at night. What type of area [is it] where people [are] killed like that. It is disturbing."

ALSO READ: Renting of beds the main cause of violence at Glebelands Hostel – police

He said that the NPA had received "impressive cooperation" from the police in the area.

"They worked very hard on those cases. This project [attempting to reduce crime in Glebelands] has been happening for years. At one stage, the NPA and police would meet every month to investigate dockets."

Witnesses living in fear

Selepe also said that witnesses would often not stand by affidavits made to police because they feared being killed.

"We have a challenge in Glebelands, because people live in fear daily. It is only the extremely brave that come forward and give testimony in court."

According to Selepe, it was hard to fault the community for not always coming forward.

"I do not blame them. In Glebelands you are killed without doing anything. Can we expect people to run forward and talk? I do not think so."

He said that, while witness protection was offered, it was not always what witnesses wanted.

"It is difficult to never speak to your family; to move to another part of the country and have your life change overnight. Many witnesses do not want to become part of the programme."

Working with evidence

Selepe said that it was often difficult for the public to understand that empirical evidence was vital to the success of cases.

"Sometimes the public asks why we withdraw cases or do not prosecute. Simply put, we go with what evidence is in a docket. If there is not enough evidence, we cannot go forward with a case."

He said that, even though insufficient evidence halted cases, if evidence did come up at a later stage, the NPA could still prosecute.

"We always have an open mind in matters and we are always willing to go forward when we can. If initially there was little evidence, but it later comes to light that we can probe a matter, we do."

He said there was a reasonable explanation to the complaint that the NPA did not communicate with families of victims.

"As prosecutors, we have to remain impartial. Therefore, we communicate through the investigating officer and send messages to families. No one is guilty during court proceedings. Only a court can declare that. Until that happens, we must remain balanced."

The Moerane Commission will host the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Friday. Proceedings are scheduled to continue into March.

The commission was established October 2016 by Premier Willies Mchunu amid a high number of political killings in the province. Chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane, the commission is investigating killings in the province since 2011.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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