Six South African nationals arrested for the murder of a whistleblower have had their bail applications postponed.
Their lawyer told a court in Johannesburg that he’s been unable to access their clients – Phakamani Hadebe, Zita Hadebe, Nhlangano Ndlovu, Sanele Mbele, Siphiwe Mazibuko and Phakanyiswa Dladla, to prepare them for a proper bail application.
“These circumstances are worsened by the fact that, during consultation, I am separated from my clients through a bulletproof glass. That has also made it difficult for our interpreters. I was also unable to obtain proper instruction from the clients,” Sharfique Sarlie, the accused lawyer said.
Sarlie also added that the prosecution provided him with an affidavit, and it opposed the bail application, but supported his application for the court to allow him more time to consult with the accused.
“I need to deal comprehensively with all the material issued raised in the investigating officer’s affidavit,” he said.
He asked the court for a postponement to October 1 in order to have a proper assessment of his clients.
Babitan Deokoran was shot several times outside her home last month, as she dropped her child from school, in an incident that has called for better security for whistleblowers.
Ms. Deokoran’s murder wasn’t the first of its kind in South Africa, as her demise raised calls for better protection of the people that report corruption.
Killings like that of Ms. Deokoran are used to send messages to other nationals who may be interested in whistle-blowing but with deaths of such nature, there’s an expected reduction in the number of whistleblowers in the country.
Ms. Deokoran who worked in the department of health office in the Gauteng province was a key witness in an investigation into corruption cases during COVID-19. The alleged fraudulent contract was worth 325m Rand, awarded for the procurement of personal protective gears for health workers in the COVID-19-ravaged country.
The six accused suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder but are yet to be asked to plead in court.