Open letter for justice

Cornelius Basson, founder of Chad Basson Foundation

This is an open letter to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Our dearly beloved son, Chad Basson, was shot dead at a friend’s 21st birthday party in Lentegeur on Saturday morning July 28 more than two years ago.

We were in the depths of despair and hit rock bottom, like we did not want to live anymore.

We thought that the road to justice would be plain and straightforward.

We thought that Lady Justice would be on our side. But nothing could prepare us for what followed.

Instead we, #JusticeForVictims, had to endure more pain and trauma coupled with loads of frustration as the wheels of justice turned slowly and, in one instance, ground to a halt.

To us it feels that the law is more on the side of the perpetrator. That his human rights are more important and that the decks are already stacked so heavily against mourning families.

Although not everybody’s case is the same, there are striking similarities, which pain us daily.

Sometimes we have hard-working investigation officers who make sure that strong cases are presented for successful prosecutions.

Then there are those who want the families to solve their cases for them.

Sometimes not bothering to communicate or give feedback to the families.

The justice system keeps failing us and contributes to more heartache.

Members of families go all out to gather sometimes over a thousand signatures in their petitions to oppose bail.

They even go further by spending days in all weather outside court, protesting with placards to strengthen the opposing bail bid.

In nearly all our cases, magistrates do not blink an eye to grant suspects bail even when these cases are gruesome.

Some of the accused are repeat offenders, hardened criminals who are unleashed onto the streets “with a blank cheque.”

It makes one wonder, why bother to go through all these efforts if it depends on one person being subjective?

It boggles the mind when those accused of lesser crimes than rape and murder are denied bail, while accused rapists and murderers get it.

Too many times, the magistrates fall for their soft stories about their family circumstances and being “breadwinners” with permanent addresses and stable jobs.

In my case, my heroic son had just started work and was so happy to help his family now that he was working, or so he thought.

I cannot, like the accused, plead poverty or financial hardship.

It pains that most of our young children had a bright future with the world at their feet.

Sometimes, as a condition, the accused give alternative addresses outside the jurisdiction, but, with no one to monitor them, they are seen wandering around the very same areas that are prohibited.

Imagine the fear, disbelief and intimidation that families have to endure when they come across the suspects in their cases.

It hurts and angers one that sometimes you see how they enjoy themselves, going on like nothing has ever changed and showing no remorse.

The NPA or Department of Justice should also carefully select the community assessors, as sometimes there is not a full commitment to see it to the end, and cases have to start afresh.

In one incident, the distraught parent, who has sat through court proceedings for four years, had to begin again through more trying times.

We are worried about some witnesses who might not return to go through the same difficult process again, or are they wanting families to just give up?

One of our group’s member’s case is before court now for eight long years. Surely justice delayed, is justice denied?

We are shocked to learn that an ex-police colonel has just been released after only serving four short years for multiple convictions and not even close to half his prescribed sentence.

As an authority that we looked up to, he did the unthinkable by trading firearms with gangsters which is tantamount to treason.

Some of these guns could have been used to commit these cowardly acts of snuffing out the precious lives of our children.

Perhaps we should start a class-action suit against the department as many innocent lives were taken.

We sit now with our heads in our hands as we learned that 100 cases were struck off the roll due to incompetence.

In the same breath we read that the DNA laboratories are close to collapse due to shortage of money whilst a lot of corruption is taking place.

Honourable sir, we are pleading with you to convene public meetings for input by the community and also high level interdepartmental meetings as we cry buckets of

tears.

This is interspersed with the blood of our children on the soil of our beloved country.

● Eric Ntabazalila, NPA provincial spokesman, responds:

I can confirm that the accused, Jephery Percy Africa, appeared in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday October 27.

The bail application was postponed to Wednesday November 4.

The accused was remanded in custody.

The case was registered in 2018, but the accused was only arrested in August as he was on the run for two years.

The state is opposing his bail application.

The senior public prosecutor of the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court met with the father of the deceased and briefed him about the status of the case.