Three years on from the killing of an environmental human rights defender, Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, who was shot dead in front of his teenage son, authorities are still failing to share the details of their investigation and bring suspected perpetrators to justice, Amnesty International said today.
“It is absolutely shocking that three years on from the gruesome killing of ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, as he was popularly known, his family and the public at large remain in the dark about the motive for the killing – let alone the family finding closure for the horrific killing of their father, brother and cousin,” said Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa.
“The state’s silence on the case is deafening. Authorities must escalate their investigation and make sure that all those responsible are brought to justice, including those who ordered the crime. Most importantly, authorities must regularly give progress reports of the investigation to his family so that they are informed of every step taken by the authorities.”
Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe was shot dead on 22 March 2016 by two men who had come to his residence in Lurholweni in Eastern Cape Province claiming to be police officers. He was in the company of his teenage son. Hours before his death, Bazooka learned he was at the top of a ‘hit list’.
At the time of his death, he was the Chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), a community-led initiative that has been opposing the opencast mining of titanium and other heavy minerals on communal land in Amadiba in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, by a local subsidiary company of an Australian mining company, Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC).
The ACC, which was established in 2007, has been fighting to protect the community’s rights to their ancestral land. They argue that the community will be at risk of losing their heritage and deep cultural connection with the land if MRC’s local subsidiary is allowed to mine on it.
Since the murder of Bazooka, the remaining leadership of the ACC are deeply concerned about their safety.
Shortly after the killing of ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, the investigation was taken over from local police by the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DCPI) of the South African Police Service, commonly known as the ‘Hawks’. The DCPI told the family in 2018 that the investigation is continuing.
“Bazooka’s family deserve to know who was behind the killing, and the authorities must ensure their right to truth and justice. Justice delayed is justice denied. Impunity should not be allowed to take over.”
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6033 (office) or +27 (0)64 890 9224 (mobile); firstname.lastname@example.org