The family of Junaid Phillips, who was stabbed to death in Hangberg in January, have pleaded for justice after learning the case hangs in the balance.
The State opposed an application by the 16-year-old murder accused’s lawyer, in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court, on Monday this week, to have the case withdrawn due to lack of evidence.
Instead the case was postponed to Thursday June 8, but the State was warned that if DNA evidence had not been finalised by then the case would be withdrawn.
In a statement to the media on Tuesday this week, Junaid’s cousin and family spokesperson, Shana Davids, said the family felt let down by the justice system.
“At the first bail hearing on Monday January 9, he (the accused) was let out on bail. Our investigating officer came to inform the family of this after five days, by which time we had already learnt from our community that the 16-year-old had been let out and sent to stay with family in Paarl,” she said.
“After weeks had passed, we then eventually went to see the commissioner at the Hout Bay police station, as we weren’t sure when the next court date would be and we wanted closure. We then started noticing the investigating officer driving around with friends of the accused and felt that he can’t be trusted. We got assigned a new detective, who has only been to see the family once since February.” Ms Davids said the new detective had proven hard to get hold of. “He has also twice been on leave when we had to appear in court. He would call and tell us that we could expect the case to be postponed as he hadn’t collected all evidence, or statements had to be redone.”
The family used online crowd-funding platform backabuddy to raise money to hire a lawyer “to be their eyes and ears in court” since the accused is a minor and court proceedings are closed to all but his mother. (“Lawyer sought for help in murder case”, Sentinel, March 24).
Ms Davids said the police’s forensic lab had told her it could take three months to finalise DNA results. “So if you do the maths, it’s been five months already (since Junaid’s death) So what is going on here?”
She said the family’s lawyer would be investigating further. Hout Bay police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch said the case docket was still in court and the police could not provide feedback at this stage.
She added that the criminal investigation department (CID) commander had been informed about the family’s media statement and had suggested police set up a meeting with the family as soon as possible to address all their concerns.
“Client satisfaction is very important to us,” she said.