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All charges against Nomzamo Park tavern massacre accused withdrawn

All charges against Nomzamo Park tavern massacre accused withdrawn
Nomzamo Park residents protest outside Orlando Magistrates’ Court in Soweto on 16 February 2023 during the court appearance of suspects in the July 2022 Nomzamo Park tavern massacre. (Photo by Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

The NPA said on Monday that all charges against the accused in the Nomzamo Park tavern shooting, where 16 people were murdered, had been withdrawn because witnesses had either died or feared for their lives.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Monday announced that all charges against the six suspects in the Nomzamo Park tavern shooting case would be withdrawn, almost a year after the murder of 16 people at the Mdlalose Tavern in Orlando, Soweto on 14 July 2022.  

nomzamo tavern massacre

Nomzamo Tavern shooting suspects in Orlando Magistrates’ Court in Soweto on 5 December 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

The 16 people died after a group of men stormed the tavern and opened fire on patrons. One of the accused was a former Hawks branch commander who told the court the killings were related to burial society rivalries.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Burial society rivalry’ at the heart of Nomzamo tavern mass shooting, says one accused at bail hearing

In a statement on Monday, Gauteng NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said all charges against the accused had been withdrawn.  

nomzamo tavern massacre

Nomzamo Park residents protest outside the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court during the appearance a suspect in the Nomzamo Park tavern massacre. (Photo: Gallo Images / Fani Mahuntsi)

She said there were no prospects of a successful prosecution as requests for further investigations had not been complied with due to witnesses fearing for their lives, or dying.

“The National Prosecuting Authority decided to withdraw criminal charges against all accused in the Nomzamo tavern shooting incident following thorough analysis of the contents of the dockets related to tavern shooting incidents around Kliptown and Orlando,” said Mjonondwane.

The magistrate barred the media from reporting the names of the six accused, but the NPA noted that two unrelated cases against two of the suspects would continue — one of attempted murder and one of murder.

The tavern murders angered the Nomzamo and Orlando communities, who supported the victims’ families at the Orlando Magistrates’ Court during the hearings. For a while, the hearings were moved to the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court after community members threatened to burn down the Orlando courthouse. DM

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