With stellar police investigations, the AKA murder probe can be finalised quickly, say experts

A picture collage of Senzo Meyiwa, former footballer, and AKA, a murdered rapper.

Members of the public have called for the justice system to urgently resolve the AKA murder case swiftly, and not allow it to drag like the Senzo Meyiwa murder case. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/Independent Newspapers/Instagram/IOL

Published Mar 1, 2024


Since the latest developments with the arrest of seven suspects accused of killing South African rapper Kiernan ‘AKA’ Forbes, members of the public have called for the justice system to treat the matter with urgency and to avoid the prolonged delays which have hampered the murder trial of Senzo Meyiwa.

The Bafana Bafana captain was shot dead at his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo’s house in October 2014.

It took the SA Police services six years to arrest the five men accused of his murder. It has been three years since the trial started and no conviction has been made.

The trial had to start a fresh in July last year after Judge Tshifiwa Maumela fell ill, and it has been locked in a months long trial-within-a-trial since about October.

Just a year after his death, the AKA and Tibz (Tebello Motsoane) murder case has seen seven individuals ensnared for the crime, these include a co-ordinator (who paid and organised the whole mission), the organiser of the vehicles and firearms, two shooters and two spotters.

Criminal trials should be quick

Speaking to IOL News, defence attorney Nthabiseng Dubazana, who regularly provides legal commentary in the media, said a criminal trial should not ordinarily take more than six months after it has been enrolled in court.

However, said Dubazana, there can be delays which are caused by incomplete investigations and other unforeseen events.

“What happens is that the SAPS would have initially done its investigation and then the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would need more information in order to proceed, that’s why when the matter is still in the lower court it keeps being postponed for further investigations.

“So we are hoping that there won’t be a lot of back and forth in trying to find the alleged ‘kingpin’ who masterminded the whole thing. If investigations are complete and have been done in a proper way, hopefully we are looking at a year for this matter to be completed,” she said.

According to Dubazana, the number of accused in a matter also play a crucial part in determining the time of conclusion in the case.

“With the number of accused in the case, its certain that witnesses will also be many and that also takes time,’’ she said.

Regarding delays in the Meyiwa trial, Dubazana said besides investigations, the setback were also caused by the two different dockets which were raised in court.

“Those two dockets messed up the case in its entirety, two dockets, two different accused, and eventually having one presiding officer being removed from matter and starting the matter from scratch which added another delay.

“So we hope such things won’t be happening in the AKA case,” she said.

The second docket which was opened five years after Meyiwa’s murder, was exposed by advocate Malesela Teffo, who is the former legal representative for four of the five accused.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sibongile Mzinyathi, said the second docket, which implicates singer Kelly Khumalo, and those who were present at the crime scene “has no merit”.

AKA and Senzo Meyiwa murder probe similarities

Commenting on policing, Professor Jean Steyn, who is the head of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Zululand, noted the similarities regarding the accused in the AKA and Meyiwa case.

The murder accused in both cases have individuals who are perpetual criminal offenders.

Steyn said this was not a surprise as research has shown that repeat offenders tend to follow process and substances that have worked for them before when committing crime.

“Convicted murders have a culminating pattern of crime behaviour. Less than three percent of crime reported to the police are concluded in a court of law, never mind convictions,” he said.

In addition, Steyn said South Africa’s recidivism (re-offending) rate is one of the highest in the world, over 80%.

“In other words, eight out of 10 offenders are repeat offenders after completion of correctional services rehabilitation programmes in South Africa.”

Steyn said calls have been made to address the country’s failing justice system when dealing repeat offenders.

“These interconnected patterns should be acted on appropriately and expeditiously by a professionals who specialise in advance technologically, and coordinated criminal justice system,” he said.

The motive on both the AKA and Meyiwa murder cases is still not clear, but police believe they are dealing with contract killings in both instances.

Both cases are before the courts, with the Meyiwa murder trial expected to resume on Monday, while the suspects in the AKA/Tibz murder trial are expected to appear in court on Wednesday, March 6.

IOL News