Apartheid deaths: ANC wants inquests into murder of Cape Town MK duo reopened

Fallen comrades. (Screengrab)
Fallen comrades. (Screengrab)

The ANC called for the reopening of the inquests into the deaths of Cape Town Umkhonto we Sizwe operatives Coline Williams and Robbie Waterwitch on Tuesday, the 30th anniversary of their deaths.

"We call on our law-enforcement agencies to do everything in their power to bring perpetrators to justice. The successful prosecution of apartheid era atrocities will send a clear message that there will be no impunity for apartheid crimes," party spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.

"We believe that this process will give the families closure in the light of contradictory and inconsistent versions on how these MK fighters met their tragic deaths."

On July 23, 1989, Williams and Waterwitch were killed when an explosive device detonated near the Athlone Magistrate's Court.

According to CARA - an organisation representing family members, comrades and friends of greater Athlone struggle stalwarts Coline, Anton Fransch, Robbie and Ashley Kriel – it hoped that hundreds of cases that the TRC recommended for further investigation would be relooked, especially after the Ahmed Timol inquest.

"On the police version of events, the pair blew themselves up while on a mission to bomb the Athlone Magistrate's Court, on 23 July 1989. But the State pathologist's report was unable to conclusively establish that they died in a bomb blast, and more inconsistencies emerged when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) delved into the matter," the organisation said.

"Ultimately, nearly 20 years ago the TRC recommended that the case be further investigated by the National Prosecutions Authority but there is no evidence of prosecutors ever following it up."

The Sowetan reported earlier this month that National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi in her address to the justice portfolio committee said the State was prioritising the prosecution of apartheid crimes, with 37 cases being investigated by the Hawks while an NPA task team also reviewed cases.

Williams and Waterwitch were part of MK's Ashley Kriel Detachment, named after the youth leader who died two years earlier at the hands of the apartheid regime, Mabe said.

"Coline and Robbie belonged to the death-defying generation of the 1980s. They will be remembered as gallant freedom fighters who selflessly sacrificed their own lives for the liberation of their people.

"They decided to occupy the foremost trenches in the struggle to fight the injustices of apartheid, and by so doing, chose to confront the callous brutality of the repressive regime with every available ammunition at their disposal. Their militancy, tears and blood have truly earned them a place in history." 

He urged young people to "emulate the revolutionary examples of Comrade Coline and Robbie".

"The best tribute we can pay to these young militants is to intensify our struggle against the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. In memory of these young lions, we must intensify the programme of youth economic empowerment. Young people must continue to be a force for progressive change and radical transformation."

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