The National Prosecutions Authority has conceded to a request by the family of the late anti-apartheid activist, Nokuthula Simelane, to change the prosecutor in charge of the case against a man who allegedly vandalised her statue in Bethal.
This comes after Simelane’s family expressed unhappiness about the manner in which the case was being handled at the Bethal Magistrate’s Court.
The family had also voiced their discomfort that the accused was white and so were the town’s prosecutor and magistrate, in a case viewed as a politically motivated crime. The incident happened in January.
According to the late Simelane’s sister, Thembisile, prosecution authorities have also agreed to appoint a new magistrate for the case, which is due back in court tomorrow.
However, the NPA turned down a request to take the case to another town.
The incident was bound to invoke racial differences in Bethal given that, initially, the accused were all white males while the statue was that of a black woman, an anti-apartheid activist killed by the apartheid police in 1983.
It has also sparked huge interest among the local black residents, most of whom see this as something tantamount to violating the late Nokuthula Simelane after death, as she was violated when she was murdered by the police hit squad.
Initially, two men were arrested for vandalising the statue, which they allegedly loaded onto the back of a bakkie and drove away. Police found them trying to fix a tyre puncture.
The family is also questioning why only one man has been charged, when eye-witnesses who alerted the police claimed there were more people involved.
“We are also unhappy that he got bail of R500 for damaging a statue worth R2m,” said Thembisile Simelane after the case was postponement a week ago.