PPU intervention ensures SA Navy officer is prosecuted for deadly crash - AfriForum

Keamogetswe Khunofu charged for culpable homicide for death of Michelle de Clerck

PPU intervention ensures SA Navy officer is prosecuted for deadly crash

27 February 2024

Naval officer Keamogetswe Khunofu was back in the Vredenburg Magistrates Court today, 20 months after the culpable homicide case against him was removed from the roll because of the police’s failure to finalise the investigation. The intervention of, and ongoing pressure from, AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit on the South African Police Service (SAPS) has meant a step towards justice for the grieving family of Michelle de Clerck.

The intervention has also resulted in disciplinary steps being taken against two police officers for their conduct in the matter.

On 9 November 2021, De Clerck was run over by a car being driven by Khunofu as she tried to cross a street in Saldanha, Western Cape. It is alleged that Khunofu was driving recklessly and was intoxicated at the time of the crash. Eyewitnesses allege that Khunofu was speeding while racing against another car in the busy street. Khunofo was at the time a student at the University of Stellenbosch’s Faculty of Military Science based at the Saldanha Navy Military Base.

De Clerck’s mother, Elmarie, approached the unit in June 2022 when the matter was removed from the roll. The history of the case revealed numerous postponements because aspects of the investigation, such as blood alcohol results and forensic reports, had not been completed and compiled in the docket. The unit engaged with the Saldanha SAPS detective branch commander, who at first was helpful, but later became uncooperative and simply ignored email correspondence.

In March last year the unit filed a service complaint against the investigating officer and his branch commander. The SAPS has confirmed disciplinary steps have been taken against the investigating officer for poor investigation, and against the branch commander for his conduct towards the unit.

Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the unit, says failures by the police have caused harm to the De Clerck family. “There must be consequences for police officers who abdicate their Constitutional duty to investigate crime and serve the interests of society, notably the victims of crime. Without the intervention of the Private Prosecution Unit this investigation would never have been finalised and a grieving family would not have had the opportunity to find the closure that justice provides. The unit will continue to monitor the case,” he said.

Elmarie de Clerck attended court proceedings. “I am very grateful for AfriForum involvement and ensuring that the was placed back on the court roll. We hope that justice will prevail,” she said.

The matter was postponed to 15 April.

Statement issued by Barry Bateman, Communications Manager: Private Prosecution Unit, AfriForum, 27 February 2024