The trial of two former apartheid police officers accused of kidnapping and killing activist Nokuthula Simelane of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1983 has been postponed to allow a full report on the ability of one of the accused to to stand trial.
On Monday, Willem Coetzee and Anton Pretorius appeared before the Pretoria High Court, where they were expected to stand trial over Simelane’s death.
Attorney Jaap Cilliers for both defendants told the court that Coetzee had been evaluated by a doctor who prepared a preliminary report on his medical condition showing that he suffered from dementia.
“Dem According to the preliminary report, Mr. Coetzee cannot understand and follow criminal proceedings or complex discussions,” Cilliers said.
Coetzee suffered complications from Covid-19 last month. His attorney said the doctor conducting an assessment will complete his work and a final report will be sent to the prosecutor.
Cilliers said, this is critical for the medical examination to be completed as Coetzee’s current medical condition may be temporary.
Judge Mokhine Mosopa warned that delays in the matter could not be tolerated at this stage.
< p>“This matter is very old. The witnesses are very old people and the accused are very old. Further delays will not be in the interests of the judiciary,” Mosopa said.
Simelane disappeared in 1983 during an ANC mission from Swaziland to SA. She was lured to a meeting in the underground car park of the Carlton Center in downtown Johannesburg.
There she was arrested and later tortured for days until she died. Since her death, her family has been demanding answers and where she was buried.
At the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, five police officers requested amnesty in relation to her kidnapping, torture and disappearance.
During the trial, Simelane’s family sat yards from the two men who hold the key to closing what happened to their loved one.
Simelane’s sister Thembi Nkadimeng attempted to speak in court but they walked away with their lawyers.
The case was adjourned to August 23.