Witness in car with Babita Deokaran at time of shooting is in ‘safe place’
Six suspects in court, as seventh is discharged due to lack of evidence
One of the men arrested for the murder of senior Gauteng health department official Babita Deokaran has been let off the hook, it emerged on Monday.
Six accused appeared for five minutes before magistrate Simon Radasi in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court.
Originally seven men were arrested but only six — Phakamani Hadebe, Zita Hadebe, Nhlangano Ndlovu, Sanele Mbele, Siphiwe Mazibuko and Phakanyiswa Dladla — appeared in court.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said “the seventh suspect could not be linked to evidence”.
“The matter has been postponed for bail application on September 13.”
Mjonondwane said the six were facing charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and possession of unlicensed firearms.
Mjonondwane said the attempted murder charge relates to a person who was in the car with Deokaran at the time of the attack.
Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said a woman who was in the car with Deokaran at the time of the attack was in a “safe place”.
“She was not injured in the attack. The attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges relate to the attack on her.”
Mulamu said the suspects were all from KwaZulu-Natal.
She said there were a number of outstanding suspects for whom police were looking.
“The investigating team is working with crime intelligence agents to track them down,” she said, declining to divulge details on the number of people, officers were searching for.
She disclosed, however, that “none of suspects arrested are department of health or government officials”.
Deokaran, 53, a senior Gauteng health department finance official, was gunned down outside her Winchester Hills home, south of Johannesburg, a week ago.
She was a long-time whistle-blower who had exposed alleged irregularities and corruption in the department.
Gauteng premier David Makhura said there was “a link” between her murder and those facing charges involving R332m in personal protective equipment tender fraud.
The Sunday Times reported that Deokaran’s alleged killers stalked her for more than a month.
According to the report, three days after the brazen daytime hit, they were traced by a maze of CCTV cameras that pieced together their getaway route and led to their arrest.