Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Family of murdered Xolobeni activist appeal to NPA to “unblock” investigation

The family of murdered Xolobeni mining activist Sikhosiphi Bazooka Radebe, supported by the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), has asked National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams to intervene in the investigation into his death which they say has been stalled.

Radebe, who was chairman of the ACC, was shot eight times outside his house in Lurholweni in Mbizana, Eastern Cape on 22 March 2016.

The ACC had been fighting to prevent a mining project from going ahead in Xolobeni and several activists had been threatened before his death.

The ACC says two assailants came to Lurholweni presenting themselves as police officers. They were in a vehicle they had hijacked in Port Edward. Radebe was taken out of the house and shot when he refused to get in the car. The assailants fled north, abandoning the car in KwaZulu-Natal with the two hijack victims still inside, one in the boot and one in the back.

Two years after the murder, no arrests have been made.

In February, Eastern Cape Hawks spokesperson Captain Anelisa Feni told GroundUp that the case was still under investigation and that no further information would be released.

The ACC claims that the police have “refused” to investigate the murder.

In a bid to get answers, Richard Spoor attorneys, on behalf of Radebe’s family and the ACC, have written to the NPA head Shaun Abrahams asking him to “unblock the murder investigation”.

In their letter they request that the NPA take responsibility for the investigation, assign a lead prosecutor to the case, and respond with a plan and timeline for the completion of the investigation by 12 April.

The lawyers quote a report by the Alternative Development Centre (AIDC) released on 20 March on the investigation by the South Africa Police Service and the Hawks.

The report claims that the investigation was “sabotaged from inside the SAPS”. The AIDC, which has appointed its own investigators led by former SAPS general Thulani Ntobela, gives several examples of failures in the official investigation.

It says there were attempts to prevent the family’s forensic specialists from taking part in the autopsy on Radebe’s body. The Hawks failed to investigate the scene of the crime with the family’s ballistic expert. The police failed to consolidate the murder with the hijacking docket. The hijacked car used in the murder was returned to its owner less than 48 hours after the shooting.

The report also said the police attempted to suggest that the murder was the result of a “feud in the Mzamba Taxi Association” and had nothing to do with the mining dispute. Radebe was a taxi owner and founder of the Association.

Police failed to interview the deputy chair of the ACC, Mzamo Dlamini, or to adequately interview ACC spokesperson Nonhle Mbuthuma, both of whom had spoken to Radebe hours before his death when he told them that the mining lobby was “planning to kill us”.

Acting Deputy National Director of the NPA Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi acknowledged receipt of the lawyers’ letter. He said he had requested progress reports from the relevant Directors of Public Prosecutions.

But Eastern Cape NPA Spokesperson Luxolo Tyali told GroundUp that the NPA did not have a constitutional mandate to investigate cases. “We can only guide the investigation when the SAPS bring the docket to us,” said Tyali. ― GroundUp

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Related stories


Subscribers only

Seven years’ radio silence for taxpayer-funded Rhythm FM

Almost R50-million of taxpayers’ money has been invested but the station is yet to broadcast a single show

Q&A Sessions: Zanele Mbuyisa — For the love of people-centred...

She’s worked on one of the biggest class-action cases in South Africa and she’s taken on Uber: Zanele Mbuyisa speaks to Athandiwe Saba about advocating for the underrepresented, getting ‘old’ and transformation in the law fraternity

More top stories

ANC confirms it will oppose Magashule’s court application

The ruling party has briefed senior counsel Wim Trengove to head the team that will contest Magashule’s bid to fight his suspension and oust Ramaphosa instead

Magashule defies suspension order and KZN leaders’ advice that he...

A strategy by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC to control the narrative coming out of former president Zuma’s court appearance for arms deal corruption and fraud was thwarted

Landmark Deadly Air case: 10 000 deaths annually can be...

There is no legal mechanism in place to implement and enforce measures to prevent toxic air pollution in the Highveld

No masks. No Covid. But problems do abound

With no cases of Covid-19, a Zimbabwe informal settlement’s residents are more concerned about making ends meet – and their imminent eviction

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…