Meyiwa: Go back to ba­sics

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

HAT a tan­gled skein the Senzo Meyiwa mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion is turn­ing out to be. And, as has been the case lately in sev­eral high­pro­file probes, the po­lice are emerg­ing with egg on their face.

After 10 days of the na­tion be­ing re­as­sured that the po­lice had nabbed the right man in the Oc­to­ber 26 slay­ing of the beloved soc­cer player and cap­tain of the na­tional soc­cer team, the charges were with­drawn at the Boks­burg Mag­is­trate’s Court on Tues­day.

The spokesman for the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity had scathing words to de­scribe the charge against Zamokuhle Mbatha – in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence, dis­crep­an­cies, in­con­sis­ten­cies and a lot of con­tra­dic­tions in wit­ness state­ments. Just as well the case was with­drawn, oth­er­wise it would have been laughed out of court. As pre­sid­ing mag­is­trate Daniel Thu­lare com­mented af­ter­wards, courts are there to pros­e­cute, not to per­se­cute.

Ques­tions now arise about what the po­lice hoped to achieve by pre­sent­ing such a half-baked case. Sources have told this news­pa­per that only two out of seven wit­nesses at the iden­tity pa­rade fin­gered Mbatha as a sus­pect in the mur­der.

Surely a con­vic­tion would re­quire more than a pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at a pa­rade. Sus­pects must be pos­i­tively placed at the crime scene through foren­sics – fin­ger­prints, DNA, etc. A pos­i­tive link to the mur­der weapon would be the crown­ing glory for the pros­e­cu­tion.

Rush­ing to court on such flimsy ev­i­dence is am­a­teur­ish, in­ept and, dare we say, pan­der­ing to so­ci­ety’s emo­tions. As English ju­rist Wil­liam Black­stone in his sem­i­nal 18th cen­tury trea­tise

wrote: “It is bet­ter that 10 guilty per­sons es­cape than that one in­no­cent suf­fer.”

The po­lice are con­fi­dent that they did not make a mis­take. If that is the case, let them go back to ba­sics and build a solid case. There are sim­ply no short­cuts to a suc­cess­ful con­vic­tion.

Meyiwa’s fam­ily de­serve to know who shot him on that fate­ful night in Vosloorus. They de­serve clo­sure to this sad chap­ter.


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