Gerrie Nel helps David beat Goliath

Gerrie Nel advocates for justice for all during a talk at the FS Botanical Gardens. PHOTO: NOMAQHAWE MTEBELE

Well-known advocate, Gerrie Nel, is at the helm of a private prosecution office that aims to help the disenfranchised get the justice they deserve. According to Nel, who presented a talk on private prosecution at the Free State National Botanical Gardens last week, the unit is a trailblazer in the South African legal landscape.
“It is a process and it is unique because it has not happened before. It is absolutely exciting but unfortunately it takes a bit of time,” said Nel. He explained that the process of prosecution requires patience because it has to happen through various processes. “It is a long process because firstly, you have to recruit people, identify cases and investigate those cases yourself. Then you have to apply to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). However, we have just had our first private prosecution last week,” said Nel.
The legal unit consists of seven legal practitioners who are dedicated to pursuing cases that involve ordinary citizens against big corporations, politicians and influential business people, among others. “We received the right to prosecute Thandi Modise for the pigs that died on her farm. So that is a matter that we will be proceeding with and we as a private prosecution unit are now involved in the inquest at the Cape Town High Court for the Jimmy family,” pronounced Nel. “Although it is an inquest, our main interest is to see if there is enough evidence to privately prosecute Ford,” he added
According to Nel, who is also known as the “Bulldog” for his involvement in several high profile cases, private prosecution will give South Africans another chance at justice outside of the public realm. “I hope that the concept of private prosecution will become known and that long after I have left it will remain so that if the state fails to prosecute there will always be a private prosecutor to ensure that there is equality before the law,” he explained.
The office of private prosecution would also pursue cases of merit that may arise from the . “In all the State Capture cases, if the NPA decides not to prosecute, we will. We will look into every matter that they decide not to prosecute if there is merit in a matter,” said Nel. The talk was hosted by Med FM, to benefit the Carel du Toit Centre for children with hearing impairments. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele