Six men who were arrested last week in connection with whistleblower Babita Deokaran’s murder have made their first appearance in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.
Phakamani Radebe, Zitha Radebe, Nhlangano Ndlovu, Siphakanyiswa Dladla, Simphiwe Mazibuko and Sanele Mbele are facing charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm.
They made a brief appearance in the dock on Monday, when their case was adjourned to mid-September for a formal bail application.
Deokaran was gunned down outside her home in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg, last Monday.
The acting chief financial officer for the Gauteng department of health was one of the witnesses in the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU’s) probe into allegations of corruption involving a R300 million personal protective equipment (PPE) tender.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura, at a vigil for Deokaran last week, said her murder was linked to the probe but the SIU has since said its could not confirm the connection at this stage.
Deokaran’s murder has brought to the fore concerns around the safety of whistleblowers and witnesses.
Seven men – all from KwaZulu-Natal – were initially arrested in connection with the crime on Friday but one wound up not being charged due to a lack of evidence against him.
More arrests are expected.