South Africa

Nokuthula Simelane’s Fight for Justice: A Timeline

A timeline of events as Nokuthula’s sister Simelane fights for justice for her murder.

JOHANNESBURG – The trial for the murder of Nokuthula Simelane represents an important moment in the long-standing struggle for justice, not only for Simelane but for victims of apartheid crimes across the country.

But it has been almost 40 years since his murder for those involved to be brought to justice.

It was only in 2016 and after Simelane’s sister, Thembisile Simelane-Nkadimeng, obtained a court order requiring the police to investigate that the three officers in question, along with a fourth, Msebenzi Radebe, did their first appearance in Pretoria Magistrates Court on charges of murder.

Eyewitness News back to the case.

1983: Nokuthula Simelane goes to the Carlton Center to meet another MK member. She never saw him again.

1985: After two years of unsuccessfully searching for their daughter, her parents – Ernestina and Matthews Simelane – turn to the media. Her photo is published and a policeman guarding her in Vlakplaas recognizes her and steps forward. He reveals that she was badly assaulted and the last time he saw her she was in bad shape. An investigation is carried out but she has still not been found.

1995: Information reveals that Simelane was kidnapped by members of the security branch, detained for weeks and tortured.

1999: A total of seven former apartheid police officers are petitioning the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for an amnesty for Simelane’s abduction. Five are also asking for amnesty for his torture. However, no one is asking for amnesty for his murder. Instead, the majority say they actually “turned” Simelane and she was redeployed as a spy for the state.

2001: The TRC grants amnesty to all those who requested it for the kidnapping of Simelane. Two of those who asked for amnesty for his torture also obtained it. The commission finds that the other three – Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederick Mong – lied about “the duration and extent” of it and their claims are dismissed.

2001: His father, Matthews Simelane, died of a heart attack.

2007: Simelane’s sister, Thembisile Nkadimeng, and other affected families are taking legal action against new amendments to the NPA’s prosecution policy, which effectively create a “disguised amnesty”.

2008: The challenge is successful.

2015 : Nkadimeng files a motion to force the authorities to investigate.

2016: Coetzee, Pretorius and Mong – along with a fourth former security guard, Msebenzi Radebe – are charged with Simelane’s murder. Radebe is also charged with her kidnapping. They appear for the first time in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court and are released on bail of 5,000 rand each.

2016: The defendants are asking for state funding to cover their legal costs. However, they are refused.

2018: Once the defendants presented their offer of state funding for their legal fees to the court, they were successful.

2019: Simelane’s family goes to court and has her officially declared dead.

2019: Radeb dies.

2021: Mong dies.

Nokuthula Simelane’s Fight for Justice: A Timeline

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