Excessive Delays in South African Justice System Leading to Unwarranted Harassment of Activist: CIVICUS and HURISA
Johannesburg. 29 November 2012. A fact finding mission by CIVICUS and the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) has unearthed evidence of concerning judicial delays in the case against South African activist Angy Peters, who has been in custody for almost 6 weeks.
Angy Peters, who works as a Community Services Officer with the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), an organisation that campaigns against mob justice in the Khayelitsha township of Cape Town, South Africa, has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of Siphiwo Mbewu (known as Rowan du Preez). He was murdered on October 13 2012 by ‘necklacing’, when a tyre filled with petrol was placed around him and set alight. Prior to his death, Angy had been assisting in the rehabilitation of Rowan du Preez and had tried to steer him away from a life of crime.
Although Angy is seven months pregnant and severely anaemic, she has been unable to obtain a bail hearing and has remained in custody since 14 October 2012. She has experienced several delays in the hearing of the case against her which raises serious concerns about access to justice in South Africa. On 19 November 2012, the Blue Downs Magistrates’ Court in the Mfuleni area of Cape Town postponed her hearing and set a new date for the 30th of November even though Section 50(6) (d) of the South African Criminal Procedure Act No 51 of 1977 prohibits postponements exceeding 7 days at a time.
In 2011, Angy was listed as one of South Africa’s most inspiring ‘Young South Africans’ in the respected Mail & Guardian newspaper for her community service work for the SJC. In recent months she has been involved in campaigns against mob justice and in the collection of testimonies to assist the official Commission of Inquiry into Policing and Justice in Khayelitsha which was initiated on a complaint by the SJC. Notably, in 2009, Angy Peters personally rescued Rowan du Preez from the hands of an angry mob which was covered by the media.
“Although it is premature to comment on the merits of the case as the police investigation has not been completed, it is indisputable that Angy Peters has been campaigning for an end to mob justice and necklace deaths for a number of years,” said CIVICUS Policy and Advocacy Officer, Charlotte Allan. “It is extremely worrying that she remains in custody pending the decision on her case by the courts.”
The joint fact-finding mission by CIVICUS and HURISA from 19-21 November spoke to a number of members of the community. Those interviewed attested to the contributions made by Angy Peters in the community and expressed concerns about a breakdown in the relationship between the community and the police in Khayelitsha. The township has experienced a 16% increase in murders since the beginning of 2012 along with 18 reported instances of ‘necklace’ deaths and a combined total of 78 vigilante justice attacks.
CIVICUS and HURISA remain deeply concerned about the procedural delays in the case against Angy Peters and appeal to the South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service to take necessary steps to address this judicial limbo and ensure speedy justice for her and her co-accused.
For more information please contact CIVICUS:
Charlotte Allan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Policy and Advocacy Officer, CIVICUS or
Kiva LaTouché (email@example.com Communications Officer, CIVICUS
Tel: +27 11 833 5959
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