Justice for Soweto two still on hold

The wheels of justice are turning slowly in the case of two remand detainees from Soweto. (Photo: CaribPress)

The wheels of justice are turning slowly in the case of two remand detainees from Soweto. (Photo: CaribPress)

To see the abridged version of this article which appeared in The Citizen, click here.

HAZEL MEDA

Two Soweto men have been waiting more than two years for their trial to be concluded, after the magistrate retired in the middle of the proceedings.

Jabulani Radebe and his co-accused Mthuli Dube have now spent a total of four years and six months in remand detention.

Last year, The Citizen reported that Radebe and Dube’s robbery trial had ground to a halt in February 2011, when Magistrate Christo Jacobs of the Upington Regional Court retired.

In February 2012, Regional Court President Khandilizwe Nqadala ordered Jacobs to return to conclude the case, but Jacobs has not yet done so. Meanwhile, Radebe and Dube languish in Kuruman Correctional Centre in the North Cape while their trial keeps getting postponed.

Radebe’s mother, Molly Gqeba, says the failure to bring her son’s case to a speedy conclusion has caused the family a great deal of hardship.

“It’s been too long. The case is not going anywhere. He is staying there forever and we are suffering. The kids want their father. There is a lot that they need Jabulani to do”.

Gqeba used to help Radebe sell clothes, but she lost that source of income when he was arrested in 2008.

“It’s so difficult. I am only getting this Mandela money, the grant. I get R1200 and out of that I’m taking half of it and sending it to him every month. He says he hasn’t got shoes, he hasn’t got enough food, he’s sick. He needs money to phone me, because I can’t go there. I only went there once in 2009. I didn’t have a place to sleep and somebody put me in their house.”

Dube’s wife May Khumalo* has not seen her husband since his arrest, since she cannot afford to travel to Kuruman.

“It’s very hard. It’s better they end the case; if they find him guilty then they sentence him, or else they release him, rather than just keeping him,” she says.

She believes that her husband is doing his best to keep a positive attitude. “Maybe he is just trying to be brave for me. Every time they go to court, he keeps telling me it’s the final one, but they keep on postponing the case.”

Now the two families are pinning their hopes on the application for special review which Radebe and Dube’s lawyer, KB Seleke, has filed at the Kimberley High Court.

Seleke says he has asked the court to strike the matter from the roll and for the case to be started again.

“The delay is unfair for us. We are hoping that the court will assist us,” Seleke said.

Seleke filed the application for special review almost two months ago but has not yet received a response.

Neither the Registrar of the Kimberley High Court nor the Northern Cape branch of the Magistrates’ Commission could be reached for comment.

*Name changed to protect the person’s privacy.

Hazel Meda is a journalist at the Wits Justice Project, which investigates miscarriages of justice and is based in the Department of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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