POLITICS

Child shooting: NPA must prosecute ? AfriForum

State?s failing to act in accordance with Child Justice Act by not doing so

Private Prosecution Unit says NPA must prosecute in case of child’s death by shooting following finding in inquest

11 January 2022 

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit yesterday in a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Northern Cape said that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) must reconsider their decision not to prosecute more than four years after Maverick Links (14) was tragically shot dead. This follows after Magistrate Bertus van Zyl on 30 November 2021 in the Upington Magistrate Court decided in favour of the Unit (who represents the Links-family) in the formal inquest into this case.

Links was allegedly shot in July 2017 by his ten year old friend with the service firearm of the friend’s father. The father was at the time of the incident, and still is, a member of SAPS. The purpose of the inquest was, amongst others, to determine whether someone could be held accountable for the death of Links. In this case, Magistrate Van Zyl, on the arguments made by the Private Prosecution Unit, found that persons could indeed be held accountable and that their actions could amount to crimes. This after the NPA, for inexplicable reasons, refused to prosecute the minor and/or his father.

Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, argued during the inquest that the NPA’s irrational decision not to prosecute is a direct consequence of the State’s failure to act in accordance with the Child Justice Act, 75 of 2008 amongst others with regard to the child’s criminal capacity to be held liable for committing a crime. In the letter it is indicated how the NPA either deliberately misapplied the facts pointing to criminal capacity or simply ignored such.

According to Natasha Venter, Advisor at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, the NPA’s refusal to prosecute and the resulting inquest can only be interpreted as an attempt by the NPA to mask their inept and unprofessional handling of the matter. “It seems that the NPA has developed the tendency to hide their inability to make difficult decisions by ordering an inquest instead, thereby justifying their incapacity. This is an irrational abuse of the legal process and also failed in this case following the finding of the magistrate.”

The Private Prosecution Unit also indicated that they request clear reasons should the NPA decide not to prosecute. “It is simply reasonable to, after four years, demand answers about whether prosecution will be instituted or not. Furthermore, it seems that there is an unbridgeable gap between the image that the NPA portrays in the media and Parliament and the reality that victims of crime have to endure daily. The NPA’s apparent reluctance to prosecute in various cases, including prosecutions based on information revealed in the Zondo Commission, has not gone unnoticed,” Venter concludes.

Issued by Chanté Kelder, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 11 January 2022