Murder of Isabel van Coller, trial postponed yet again due to state’s failure


Murder of Isabel van Coller, trial postponed yet again due to state’s failure
Murder of Isabel van Coller, trial postponed yet again due to state's failure

The case against Biazza Goliath for the murder of Isabel van Coller in November 2019 was postponed today in the Southern Gauteng High Court to 3 October 2022 in order to locate a key witness. This comes after the case was placed for trial for two weeks which was due to start On 8 August 2022.

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit is acting in terms of a watching brief from Harriet Ackerman, the twin sister of Van Coller and a senior prosecutor at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Goliath is already a convicted person and is currently serving a sentence for other crimes in the Johannesburg Correctional Centre.

Van Coller was shot dead on the morning of 15 November 2019 during a hijacking in Bramley, Johannesburg.

Goliath, who appears from footage of the hijacking to have fired the shot and sped off in Van Coller’s vehicle, is facing charges of murder and aggravated robbery. The NPA initially withdrew the case, but after the Private Prosecution Unit made representations in May 2021 to Adv. Masenyani Andrew Chauke, the Director of Public Prosecutions in South Gauteng (DPP), the case was placed back on the roll and transferred to the High Court.

However, after AfriForum’s representations, the NPA indicated that they were able to locate two of the suspects who were allegedly involved in the hijacking and that one person is now a state witness in terms of section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 in the case against the alleged murderer. It is this witness who must now be located again by the investigating officer. However, the other suspect is still missing.

“The state’s inability to get the witness before the court today means that justice has once again been delayed. The community has a right to know why this witness was not monitored by the police and therefore could not testify in court today. The inability to handle this case correctly was clear from the beginning – for example, the docket went missing and had to be reconstructed. Today we also saw that the family, who traveled far to be here, was once again let down by the system. The state’s lack of communication with the family cannot be excused either. Furthermore, the mere fact that the state did not ask for a warrant to be issued for the witness is indicative that he was never summoned. We still do not know what steps, if any, the police have taken to ensure that the witness will be at court,” says Natasha Venter, Adviser at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.

Ackerman, who had driven from East London hoping the trial would start today, was clearly frustrated with today’s proceedings. She said that the state is exposing her and her family to secondary trauma due to the constant delays and lack of communication. During an interview, she once again pointed out the irony that even as a prosecutor she was forced to call in AfriForum’s help and that only then was sufficient attention paid to the case.

Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum