The charges against the 11 Ballito residents, who were arrested on May 10 for violating lockdown level 4 regulations after allegedly visiting the beach, have been dismissed.
Pressure group Afriforum’s head prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, who represented 8 of the victims, said they were subpoenaed by the State to appear in the Umhlali magistrates court on August 10, but the matter was not placed on the court roll as it was a public holiday.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had advised that the cases would be referred back to police for further investigation.
But AfriForum said on Monday that the prosecutor had since decided to “let the prosecutions go”.
“The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) informed AfriForum’s private prosecution unit in writing that they have officially decided to dismiss the complaints against people arrested in Ballito during level 4 of lockdown for the so-called infringement of the Disaster Management Act.
“This unit addressed representation to the NPA why these people should not be prosecuted,” said AfriForum’s campaign manager Natasha Venter.
The arrests received national attention, particularly as 2 KwaDukuza municipal officers were videoed removing a crying 4-year-old child from the Chaka’s Rock complex where some of the group were living.
The officers were responding to a complaint after several families had allegedly been seen on Chaka’s Rock beach.
The families with their children were already on their way home when the officers arrived to arrest them.
Those charged included the boy’s father and 10 other people, including an elderly couple and a pregnant woman.
All 11 were held in cells at the Umhlali police station after their arrest and charged in terms of the Disaster Management Act before being granted bail of R1 000 each and summoned to appear in court in August.
An internal investigation by KDM municipality cleared the officers of wrongdoing, but KDM’s attorney refused to hand over the investigation report to Afriforum.
Nel said that none of his clients had been consulted or asked to provide their version of the even “AfriForum welcomes the NPA’s decision to dismiss the complaints, but strongly feels that the complaints against these people should never have been lodged, and also that the law enforcers’ behaviour in this case was arbitrary and unnecessary,” said Venter.
“Most of the members of the public, especially during level 4 of lockdown, tried to make sense of the vague regulations, that were frequently changed and were irrational as well.
“To punish these people just because they were walking on the beach and furthermore to burden them with criminal records would have been preposterous.”