Magistrate Bertus van Zyl today in the Upington Magistrate Court decided in favour of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit in the formal inquest into the death of Maverick Links. This follows after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) once again failed in its duty to institute prosecution, which resulted in this inquest.
In this case the victim was a 14 year old boy. Links was allegedly shot in July 2017 by his ten year old friend with the service firearm of the friend’s father. The purpose of an inquest such as this is to, amongst others, determine whether someone can be held accountable for the victim’s death. In this case, Magistrate Van Zyl, on the arguments made by the Private Prosecution Unit, found that a person could indeed be held accountable and that his/their actions could amount to a crime. This after the NPA refused to prosecute the minor and/or his father.
Magistrate Van Zyl’s finding follows shortly on the decision taken by Magistrate John Maloba last week in the Deedat-inquest in the Johannesburg Magistrate Court in which he (Maloba) remarked that the State uses the Inquest Court as a safety net or a rehearsal for trial and, most of all, to illustrate to victims what pitfalls may lie in a trial.
According to Andrew Leask, Chief Investigator at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, the NPA’s constant abdication of their constitutional duty to prosecute by rather instituting formal inquests is an abuse of process and disregards the rights of the victims of crime to whom they are duty-bound. “Our Unit increasingly experiences how the NPA would request a formal inquest rather than prosecuting in an effort to circumvent their ineptness to make difficult decisions and hiding behind the decision of an inquest magistrate. In this tragic case, the NPA should immediately have followed the procedures as determined by the Child Justice Act, 75 of 2008.”
Leask also emphasised that the Private Prosecution Unit are fighting for justice on behalf of their clients against both the State and the person of interest in this inquest as it seems that both of these parties want to prevent prosecution. “It is ironic that ‘the lawyers for the people’ have once again failed society rather than acting in the interest of the victim’s family. Furthermore, the investigation in this matter leaves a lot to be desired and it seems as though the police were reluctant to investigate because the father of the person of interest is a police official. It is only after we became involved in this matter in 2019 that the police obtained the necessary statements and evidence.”