On Monday, six suspects accused of murdering whistle-blower Babita Deokaran appeared in court for a second time, where their defence team applied for postponement of the formal bail application, citing challenging consultation circumstances. The State did not oppose, and the magistrate remanded the matter to 1 and 5 October. Until then the suspects will be remanded in custody.
Babita was a 53-year-old, Indian-Origin South African who served as a senior official within the Gauteng Provincial Government Department of Health. .
According to Bishop Tony Haripersadh, her brother-in-law who is married to Deokaran’s sister, Pastor Shamilla Haripersadh,
‘Someone tried to silence her because she was someone who always did things the right way,’
Tony Haripersadh said Deokaran had confided in the family that she was a “key” witness in the investigation.
He said Deokaran, formerly of Phoenix in Durban, was the centre of their family and was one of eight children
“She stood for what was right and she was not afraid. Our dear sister died a noble woman; our family salutes her. All we want now is justice and for the perpetrators to be brought to book.
Reason for her assassination
She provided providing critical information about regarding a more than 330 million rand (over USD 20 million) fraud into the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during COVID-19 lockdown in the country last year, prompting the authorities to launch a high-level investigation into the incident.
In July 2020, Diko voluntarily went on a special leave after it was reported that her husband, Chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, had been awarded a R125-million tender to provide PPE to the Gauteng health department.
Arrest of the suspects
Police spokesperson Brenda Muridili says the suspects were arrested late on Thursday evening at various hideouts.
“A collaboration of crime intelligence units received information and conducted a takedown operation at the suspects’ hideouts in Johannesburg. During the arrests, the police recovered two firearms and two vehicles.”
Police, in a joint operation between the Gauteng Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, Johannesburg K9 unit, Johannesburg East Crime Intelligence, Fidelity Specialized Services, made the arrests after receiving information on the whereabouts of the suspects. During the operation, the police recovered two firearms and two vehicles.
The suspects face murder charges, with the possibility of more charges being added, and are expected to appear in court soon.
The Gauteng police in a statement said that the case docket had been transferred to the DPCI for further investigation.
Police spokesperson Brenda Muridili: “The national commissioner has commended the investigating team’s breakthrough in the case and he has said that he is confident that the Hawks will work tirelessly to ensure that justice is served.”