It’s been a just over a week since the body of little Tazne Van Wyk has finally been laid to rest. However, the bereaved family have taken up the position to sue the state of the murder of the 8 year-old-girl. The family firmly believe that her life could have been spared if her alleged murderer was not prematurely released on parole. The accused Mohydien Pangaker, who led detectives to her decomposing body, had a series of previous convictions.
Following the news, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola appeased citizens and promised a full review was underway to address flaws in the parole system.
A senior researcher at UCT’s Centre of Criminology Simon Howell said that there is basis for a civil claim due to Pangaker’s lengthy criminal history. Pangaker’s criminal history dates back to as early as 1981 and he’s previously been convicted of crimes, which include murder, abduction and culpable homicide.
“It’s difficult for the parole system to make these decisions but I think in this instance because of the previous convections I think this case sways more towards the family than towards the state,” said Howell.
Howell explained that this sort of endeavour could be costly if the family opted to go about it on their own terms rather than seek out a lawyer that would perform his/her legal services pro bono (free of charge).
“If it [the case] fails, it would be a very expensive endeavor to undertake, so that is something that needs to be considered,” said Howell.
Howell said that there have been several instances where the justice system has been sued but it is new that the parole board has been implicated.
“This is quite novel in terms of the role around the parole board, however taking the department of correctional services to court though is not as novel,” scoffed Howell.
However, Howell stated that many times crimes are committed or in this case re-committed out of necessity.
“If you release someone into a context where it’s very difficult to get a job; and people continue to live in poverty and social exclusion is prevalent, then what else can you expect,” asked Howell.
The murder case has since been postponed and Pangaker will remain in custody until his next court date on 17 April.