Hope for swift justice dashed as two suspects let off the hook after mass shooting in Ocean View
Two suspects were arrested days after six young men were shot and killed in a house in Ocean View just over a week ago. The suspects were released after they were not brought to court in time. The mass shooting took place amid a global crime report that showed that South Africa is one of the highest-scoring countries on the continent in terms of criminality levels. 'Not a week goes by without an assassination,' stated the report.
Two suspects arrested in connection with the murder of six people in Ocean View last week have been released without charge. The supposed breakthrough and arrest of the two suspects brought hope in the community that the families would see swift justice if the suspects were to be found guilty.
Yet, this was short- lived as the suspects are now off the hook after the authorities allegedly failed to bring them before the court on time.
A suspect cannot be detained for a period longer than 48 hours without appearing in court. Any further detention is unconstitutional, and the legal representatives of one of the suspects, according to the National Prosecuting Authority, successfully challenged the lawfulness of the detention.
On Wednesday 12 April, six people were shot and killed at a house on Neptune Lane, Ocean View. According to police, a vehicle pulled up in front of the house and its occupants started shooting at individuals on the premises. Five men were killed immediately and the sixth person died on arrival in the hospital. Anti-Gang Unit detectives are investigating six counts of murder. Police said the motive for the shooting is suspected to be gang-related.
Three of thee slain people are Damian Fabie, Luciano Moerat and Christiano Hallis. The other three are believed to not be from the area and their identities have not yet been verified. A memorial service for the three local residents was held in Ocean View on Thursday.
On Monday 17 April, police announced a 20-year-old suspect had been arrested and the following day a 29-year-old was also arrested. Police said both suspects were supposed to appear on Wednesday 19 April at Simon’s Town Magistrates’ Court.
However, NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila later said, “The magistrate struck the matter off the roll after a legal representative of one of the accused protested that they were not brought before the court within 48 hours.”
Ntabazalila added that their role starts and finishes in court. “We are not involved in arrests, investigations and bringing the accused to court.”
Police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut told Daily Maverick that due process in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act was followed by SAPS to ensure that the two suspects were brought before the court to face charges of murder.
“The reasons for the case being struck from the court roll are best addressed by the NPA. The case is still under investigation and our detectives are hard at work to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book,” said Traut.
Daily Maverick could not get answers about who failed to execute their duties that resulted in the case being struck off the roll, it could be that SAPS did not have enough evidence to link the suspects with the murders and they delayed handing over the docket to the NPA for prosecution.
Western Cape MEC of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen said he was shocked that the case had been struck off the roll.
“I have written to the Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Patekile to enquire:
- What exactly transpired in this case;
- Exactly when the accused were arrested;
- If they were kept in custody beyond the mandatory 48 hours, and if that is the case, why were they not brought in court?”
Allen added he will also engage the NPA to get a better sense of this matter from the court’s perspective.
A community still reeling
Ocean View is situated about 30km outside of the Cape Town CBD and close to the beachside suburb of Kommetjie in the south of the city.
When Daily Maverick visited the area following the shooting, there was little activity on the streets. Residents peeped from their windows.
In April 2022, News24 reported how learners were traumatised following a shooting at a local school, allegedly by gang members.
“The recent shooting has shaken the community again,” said Mansoer Ismail from Ocean View Community Policing Forum, who added: “Luckily, many children were at school at the time of the shooting.”
Ismail said there was a problem with drug dens in the area and despite raids by law enforcement agencies, this continued to be a problem.
The suburb is served by Ocean View SAPS, and according to Democratic Alliance Western Cape spokesperson on Community Safety Gillion Bosman, it is one of the Western Cape’s most drastically under-resourced police stations. Despite serving a population of almost 50,000 people, Ocean View only has 61 visible policing staff and 12 detectives, said Bosman.
Ismail said only three police vehicles are available to service the area.
Pieter Ruiters, a resident from Ocean View, said until businesses and government invests in the development of the area there will always be shootings.
“There is nothing for the youth here,” he told Daily Maverick. “Joining gangsters and selling drugs remains attractive for young people, some as young as 15 … there is a football team but it cannot absorb everyone,” said Ruiters. “We need development, build a shopping centre, and have recreational activities for the community,” he added.
Gun violence in South Africa
Gun killings and assassinations are becoming a norm not only in the Western Cape but the country as a whole. In February, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that 3,144 people were murdered with guns in the last three months of 2022.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Hollow points – more than 3,000 gun murders in 3 months, but plans to tackle the problem miss critical targets
A few days before the Neptune Lane mass shooting, News24 reported on another mass shooting that took place in Delft where two people were killed and two others left injured after they were attacked by unknown gunmen in an abandoned house.
This week, community activist Loyiso Nkohla was gunned down in Philippi while attending a community meeting. The killing of Nkohla happened just 15 kilometres from where Cele was visiting a family in Khayelitsha following a sexual assault on one of its members.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Shock and sadness after former ‘poo fighter’ Loyiso Nkohla gunned down in Philippi
In February, multi-award-winning rapper Kiernan Forbes, known professionally as AKA and his former manager Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane were assassinated outside a Durban restaurant.
Community Activist Mbulelo Dwane told Daily Maverick that shootings were mostly gang related in previous years but now even community leaders can be taken out anytime and anywhere.
“We’re seriously concerned about these recent developments as Community Leaders, especially now that they seem to be targeting community leaders and activists, we wonder what should be done as no one has a plan from politicians to government on what needs to be done and how do we curb these killings and extortion related killings.
“Do we render the country and our communities to gangsters and we sit back and fold our arms? The country should speak and answer that question now.”
The 2021 Global Organized Crime Index ranks South Africa as one of the highest-scoring countries on the continent in terms of criminality levels and as the highest-scoring in the southern African region.
In the latest report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) as reported by Daily Maverick, issues such as politics, transportation, gangs, and even romantic relationships fuel assassinations in South Africa. "Not a week goes by without an assassination,' stated the report." DM