South Africa


Six suspects accused of murdering Babita Deokaran remanded in custody after second court appearance

Six suspects accused of murdering Babita Deokaran remanded in custody after second court appearance
The accused of the murder of Babita Deokaran stand in the dock of the Johannesburg Magistrates Court. The case was postponed to 1 October 2021. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

On Monday, six suspects accused of murdering whistle-blower Babita Deokaran appeared in court for a second time, where their defence team applied for postponement of the formal bail application, citing challenging consultation circumstances. The State did not oppose, and the magistrate remanded the matter to 1 and 5 October. Until then the suspects will be remanded in custody. 

The defence had inadequate time to consult six suspects who were behind bars after being accused of the murder of Gauteng health department senior official  Babita Deokaran, attorney Shafique Sarlie told the Johannesburg Central Magistrate’s Court, on Monday.

As he addressed the court, the six suspects stood behind him in the dock – appearing for a second time, their hands clasped either behind or in front of them. 

Deokaran was murdered outside her home on 23 August after dropping her daughter off at school. Her death is believed to be a targeted hit in connection to her role as a witness in the R332-million corrupt PPE deal investigation.

 The court was due to sit for the official bail application hearing, but upon the defence attorney’s request, it was postponed to two-day sittings of 1 and 5 October, 2021. 

Community activists outside the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, 13 September 2021 . (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

The suspects, Phakamani Hadebe (28); Zitha Hadebe (30); Nhlangano Ndlovu (25); Sanele Mbele (25); Siphiwe Mazibuko (24) and Phakanyiswe Dladla (25) are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.


Suspects accused of murdering Babita Deokaran in the dock of the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. The case was postponed to 1 October 2021. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Before Magistrate Simon Sibanyoni, Sarlie argued that according to the protocol at the Johannesburg prison, where all six suspects are being detained, the defence is only allowed to consult clients on a Friday between 10am and 2pm. Since their first court appearance two weeks ago, the defence has only had two days to consult.

Sarlie explained that the circumstances of consultation made it extremely difficult to obtain proper instructions, especially when translators were involved and consultations were conducted through bulletproof glass via an intercom system.

“Your worship then, we’re not able at this stage, given the challenges, to proceed with the bail application,” Sarlie told Sibanyoni.

Sarlie asked for at least two more days (i.e. two Fridays) to consult his clients and, subject to the magistrate’s sanction, recommended 1 and 5 October.

State attorney Steven Reuben, did not oppose and the magistrate agreed it was in the interest of justice to postpone the matter to 1 and 5 October. 

Action SA’s Herman Mashaba and Dr Makhosi Khoza in conversation with a court official in the court room. 13 September 2021. Photo / Shiraaz Mohamed

Server issues following DOJ cyber-attack

Sarlie also cited server issues as a challenging circumstance that prohibited the defence team from adequately preparing for the hearing. 

Sarlie noted, what is common knowledge, that following a cyber-attack on the Department of Justice servers, defence attorneys were not able to receive the audio from the court.

In response to this, Phindi Mjonondwane, regional communication manager for the National Prosecuting Authority said, “most prosecutors, especially in the office of the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions], they are on the server of the NPA itself. So hence advocate Steven Rueben was able to send whatever information that was required by the defence team for the purposes of this bail application.

ActionSA supportersoutside the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, 13 September 2021. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

“And in terms of the Department of Justice systems, yes we did receive that information as the NPA. However, we think that the court manager in this building will be in a suitable position to respond to how it has impacted the functioning of this court.”

Supporters of various organisations, including OUTA , gathered outside the court in support of whistleblowers.  ActionSA president Herman Mashaba appeared in court to gather voter support and convey his new party’s stance against corruption in the buildup to the local elections, scheduled now for November 1. Outside the courthouse, he was joined by supporters, including ActionSA Johannesburg campaign manager and former Democratic Alliance ward councillor Sarah Wissler, who told the media: “I knew Babita. I worked with her, she was part of the Department of Health and she helped me a lot with all of the Covid protocols and stuff that I needed whilst I was running my ward. She was an absolutely wonderful person. And when she was murdered, I was devastated.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Brave woman…cowardly killers who ever they turn out to be. Corruption still rules the ANC – the PPE scandal was under Cyrills watch – can’t blame Zuma for this one! Although you can blame him for setting the tone that Crime pays! Time to change the tune now.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    The 6 youngsters standing accused of this assassination are in a way also victims. Victims of a system that whose only offers of employment is either as cadres of its ruling class; or to stand along road somewhere like arbeit-gintoes hoping for a days work shovelling someone else’s sh** around; or as law-breakers and crime statistics – in this case, assassins. Of course they must be punished, and carry the full weight of the law thrown at them. The question is, if this was a normal country, governed by a normal responsible political party, would they have done it?
    I want to see the bloodsucking louse who ordered the hit in the dock, and for him/her/them to be locked away longer than flunkies who executed the order.

  • Graeme J says:

    The real question is: who paid the killers?

  • Peter Dexter says:

    If they get bail the person in the DOH who ordered the hit will make sure they don’t live to spill the beans. Better to keep them inside and arrange a plea bargain. They are merely hired hands. The real murderer (s) is the person or people who paid them to kill her. Much like the July looting: The looters were exploited by the ANC faction supporting Zuma. But Bheki Cele focuses on the looters and those who responded to protect themselves. With both cases one needs to go to the “Proximate Cause.”

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