Judgement in the bail application of the six men accused of killing Gauteng Health Department’s whistle-blower, Babita Deokaran, has been postponed in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. Deokaran was gunned down outside her Johannesburg home in August this year. The senior official at the provincial Health Department was a key witness in an investigation into tender fraud related to the supply of COVID-19 personal protective equipment.
The six suspects accused of murdering Deokaran will now have to wait a bit longer for judgment in their bail application to be handed down. This after the matter was postponed due to a water outage at the court. A date is still yet to be set for their next appearance. Her family described her as a pillar of strength.
“She was a mentor and a guide for many, she was the life of social events, jovial,” says family spokesperson Tony Haripersad.
Haripersad says the family is still reeling from her death and are calling for justice to be served.
“Justice must be served to the persons who ordered the killing not only to those six who executed her but also the person who ordered her murder and paid for that, must be identified and brought to book,” Haripersad added.
During their bail application, all six retracted their confessions – alleging it was given under duress. Prior to retracting their statements, accused number 1, Phakamani Hadebe had implicated former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Hadebe claimed that he met the minister and a man he identified as Mkhize’s brother at Brits Mall a week before Deokaran was killed. He then changed his statement, saying he’d confessed to stop the assault by police.
Legal expert Sabeer Jazbhay says that a confession needs to be given freely for it to be admissible in court.
“Confession made under duress is unacceptable and be inadmissible and for that reason, the allegations coerced has very serious ramification beyond the law and into the realm of politics. However at the bail stage – the retractions will not hold and the confession will be ventilated during the trial,” Jazbhay explains.