Inquest into family’s death in house fire postponed

The inquest into the death of Suraya Deedat and her four children was postponed to 23 to 25 November 2020 in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court today. Adv. Gerrie Nel, head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, is representing the family of Suraya and her children and is also leading the evidence. Naeem, Suraya’s husband, is the only member of the family who survived the fire in which Suraya and her children died. The postponement follows after Adv. P. Jorgensen (a senior advocate), who was appointed by Naeem, indicated that he wasn’t available today. This despite the fact that the date for the inquest had been confirmed by the court in July this year and – according to the state prosecutor – had been suggested by the advocate himself. The Private Prosecution Unit also confirmed the court date with Naeem’s legal team on 4 November.

Adv. Jorgensen was responsible for the Private Prosecution Unit’s expenses that were occurred in order to have their expert in court today. A pathologist, fire expert, family members of Suraya and Naeem, three police officers, as well as Naeem himself will testify later this month.

“It is disappointing that the case had to be postponed once again simply because Naeem’s legal team find the court dates inconvenient, especially when one takes into account that this family has waited for almost a decade to see justice for Suraya and her children. The continuous postponements in the case due to the fact that Naeem’s legal team is not prepared or available, is hampering the right of Suraya’s family to see that justice prevails. The convenience of the advocate cannot be prioritised over the other interested parties’ rights,” says Andrew Leask, head investigator at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.

Suraya and her children died in the fire in their home in Booysens, Johannesburg, in July 2011. Nobody has since been held accountable for their deaths. The formal inquest gives interested parties an opportunity to test the evidence and to assist the Magistrate in reaching a finding regarding who and/or what caused their deaths. Naeem escaped through the bathroom window while his whole family died in the fire.

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