Still no justice for slain community hero
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Cape Town - The wheels of justice appear to have ground to a halt for the family of Caledon resident Tebogo Matselebane, killed during a protest for the delivery of basic services three years ago.
While the family are struggling to come to terms with the trauma of his murder, they told the Cape Times that they were nowhere closer to justice as the investigation seemed to have gone nowhere.
Matselebane, 26, was one of two people killed. The other was 18-year-old Jason Windvogel, from the Riemvasmaak informal settlement.
He had been shot and killed on a bridge between Caledon and Hermanus on April 4, 2019 while marching to the municipality.
Despite the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) saying last year that it was closing in on “the member” who might be behind the shooting, no one has been arrested.
Matselebane’s relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they felt aggrieved by the way they were being treated in their search for justice.
Having been the family’s breadwinner as an apple picker at a nearby farm, Matselebane was identified by apicture of him when his family could not find him after the protests, his sister said.
“Officers at the local police station had advised me in 2019 to get a lawyer after the incident happened. Since then, the lawyer has not assisted me in this case. Instead, he complained about being busy with many other cases and papers he has to file.
“We don’t understand this carelessness. My grandmother has lost all hope in the justice system and is begging me to drop the case, but I can’t. My brother's death cannot be in vain, he was so young,” she said.
“No one had told me about Tebogo’s death (that day). When protesters scattered and went home after police had fired at them, I could not find him. I went to the police station thinking he might have been arrested. The police showed me two pictures of men who were killed and one of them was him. The picture only showed his face. It has been tough without him.”
Since the investigation started, the sister said they had not been informed of any progress.
“The case has never been before the courts. I didn’t even know there is something called Ipid that is mandated to investigate cases like this. My family have never been visited by those people, let alone a phone call. We heard that ballistic investigations found that it was a police gun that killed my brother. It was all quiet after that,” she said.
Ipid spokesperson Ndileka Cola said their investigation had been completed.
“Ipid finished it’s investigation into this matter. The report for prosecutorial decision was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP had queries, Ipid responded to the queries, thus far, no decision has been communicated to Ipid,” said Cola.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the docket would be sent back to Ipid as they had further queries into the investigation.
“Please note that this docket is going to be returned to the Ipid investigators as there are queries the prosecutor would like to be investigated,” said Ntabazalila.
South African Human Rights Commission spokesperson Chris Nissen, who had been approached to intervene during the protest, said urgent engagements would be held with the Ipid and DPP directorates.
“This is completely unacceptable. If there is no clear line of accountability, people will continue doing as they please. There must be accountability, so that there is a way forward and for the family to get closure as well. It cannot be that life is so cheap,” said Nissen.
Meanwhile, Theewaterskloof Municipality spokesperson Hugo Geldenhuys, said continuous engagement with the community has been done surrounding the issues which had been protested about, housing and access to basic services being the crux of the matter and access to basic services.
“The municipality and the broader community succeeded to mitigate problems through discussions,” Geldenhuys said.
“The protests were primarily related to housing issues and the possible invasion of Erf 1 Caledon. There was an invasion but the municipality used an Order of Court to undo the invasion. Thereafter the municipality had multiple meetings with the Caledon Community Committee that was established after the protests.
“These meetings are ongoing and I have been mandated to liaise with the committee on behalf of the Municipal Administration. Since the protests there was a focus on timely negotiations about service delivery matters as well as keeping the public informed about the progress of the Erf 1 Caledon Housing Project.”
However, Caledon Community Committee spokesperson Rasta Timo said residents were in the same position as three years ago.
“The municipality are the killers of our people and we remain traumatised by the massacre of 2019. It cannot any longer be called a protest as it turned into a massacre the moment two people were shot and killed and many others were left injured. We want the faces and names of the people who killed Matselebane and Windvogel.
“They have hurt our community and must be held accountable. We want the memories of our heroes to be commemorated with a statue or monument which hails them for dying for their community. Their deaths cannot be in vain and we want to see the results of their deaths,” said Timo.