Pretoria - Four members of the apartheid-era Soweto securitybranch were granted bail in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday, wherethey appeared in connection with the disappearance of Umkhonto we Sizweoperative Nokuthula Simelane.
Msebenzi Radebe, Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius, andFrederik Mong were released on R5 000 bail each and their case was postponed toMarch 29.
All four faced charges of murder, and Radebe an additionalcharge of abduction.
Simelane disappeared after security police arrested her in1983.
She was allegedly taken to Norwood, Johannesburg, and latermoved to a farm in Vlakplaas, North West, where she was tortured.
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahamsdecided on January 30 to pursue the matter.
This was based on evidence gathered by the NPA’s prioritycrimes litigation unit following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)hearings, NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said.
Radebe was facing both murder and abduction charges as hehad never applied for amnesty from the TRC. The other three admitted toabducting Simelane and were granted amnesty, and would thus only face a murdercharge.
Nokuthula Simelane's family in Court (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)
Simelane was 23 when she was arrested. She was apparently onan ANC mission to South Africa from Swaziland under the pretext of buyinggraduation attire.
Two years after her disappearance, Simelane's family soughtthe media’s help to find her. Her picture was sent to various newspapers.
A policeman who had worked at the Vlakplaas police stationidentified her. The policeman said the last time he saw her, she had become illas a result of the assaults she endured.
Simelane's remains were never found. Despite this, the NPAsaid it believed it had a reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution.
The men accused of murdering Nokuthula Simelane appear in court (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)
The men accused of murdering Nokuthula Simelane (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)
Supporters of the Simelane family outside court (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)