Baha'i News -- Whitaker's partner may sue govt over murder Thursday, August 1, 2002

Whitaker's partner may sue govt over murder

CAPE TOWN -- Liesl de Villiers, the partner of murdered East London shopowner Martin Whitaker, is to pursue civil action against the government if the alleged murderer is found guilty.

De Villiers met DA leader Tony Leon here yesterday to discuss the issue.

Former Azanian People's Liberation Army (Apla) member Dumisani Ncamazana, 27, and Luntu Nguye, 21, are alleged to have murdered Whitaker, 35, owner of the Sugar Shack Delicatessen, on May 27. The murder occurred two weeks after Ncamazana's release from prison on a special presidential pardon along with 32 other prisoners.

The pair appeared in the East London Magistrate's Court last Wednesday on murder and armed robbery charges. A bail hearing is scheduled for August 16.

Whitaker was shot in front of De Villiers, their one-year-old son Timothy and employee Ernest Twani during an armed robbery. De Villiers was also assaulted during the robbery.

Briefing the media after his meeting with De Villiers, Leon said the government's response to the murder "has been nothing short of appalling".

He said the DA was determined to pursue every political avenue available to hold the government to account. "In addition, we are investigating possible legal avenues."

However, he said it was the prerogative of the Whitaker family to pursue a civil action in the specific case of Ncamazana, should he be convicted.

The DA was taking legal advice on whether the decision to grant the presidential pardons could be successfully reviewed and reversed, Leon said.

But to make an informed decision about whether to take the presidential pardons granted to the 33 Eastern Cape prisoners on judicial review, it was necessary to "examine all the relevant information on the basis of which these pardons were granted".

Therefore, the DA yesterday requested -- in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act -- "all recorded information in the possession of the President relating to his decision to exercise his pardoning power in respect of the 33 men released".

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna and Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkesi Stofile were also being asked for "all recorded information they furnished to the President, or to each other, in relation to the President's exercise of his pardoning power in respect of the 33 men in question".

Leon said the DA would wait for a response, which had to be forthcoming within 60 days.

De Villiers said the family was entitled to "have our questions answered... it is our democratic right".

The levels of crime and violence were unacceptable to "so many" people. "A lot of old ladies are being mugged and little children are being raped."

Asked whether she intended to institute proceedings against the government if Ncamazana was found guilty of murdering her partner, she replied: "Oh yes, definitely".

Maduna's comments earlier yesterday made her feel the minister lacked empathy, she said.

Leon said it was clear the government was completely detached from, and insensitive to, the suffering of ordinary South Africans at the hands of criminals.

Ncamazana was jailed for 16 years for his part in Apla attacks before the 1994 election. The incidents included attacks on the Highgate Hotel in 1993 and on a bus of Da Gama Textiles employees, and the killing of three Baha'i Faith Mission members in Mdantsane in March 1994.

He was granted amnesty for some incidents but not for others by the TRC.

He escaped from the Middeldrift Maximum Prison in October 1999 and was later recaptured in Mdantsane.

Ncamazana was one of a group of Apla prisoners who lobbied Mbeki for blanket amnesty for crimes committed during the liberation struggle. -- Sapa

©Copyright 2002, Dispatch (South Africa)

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