The drawn-out case of Justin Jacobs, a 16-year-old boy who drowned at the notorious Corobrik quarry in Heidedal, has been handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA.) Magistrate Alphons van der Merwe announced that an inquest into the death will be handed over to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for further investigation.
According to a statement by Van der Merwe, the case will be taken over by the NPA after the court’s investigation. “The only deviation from my initial formulated findings is the fact that I have now recorded that I have been unable to make a finding whether the death was brought about by an act or omission prima facie amounting to an offence on the part of any person,” said the magistrate.
This will mean that the case may finally gain traction after Jacobs’s death in 2016. “They will again consider the content of the statements as well as my findings. It remains the DPP’s prerogative to consider whether or not any further criminal prosecution should follow,” said Van der Merwe. He added that private prosecution may be applied for if the NPA fails to pursue the case.
The area is an abandoned clay mine situated within the community of Heidedal, Bloemfontein. People have died in the water filled quarry before and after the young man’s death, many of whom were children. It remains open to the public despite a fence being previously built around it. The area is often also used as a dumping site.
Community activist, Gregory Werner, expressed concern about children’s access to the quarry during the upcoming school holidays. “The swimming pool in Heidedal is still not in working order. The recent heatwave has also resulted in very hot weather and when kids have nothing to do they will go to swim in that quarry,” said Werner.
Werner created a petition to implement improved safety measures at the quarry. He stated that he had no confidence in the judicial system to bring justice to Jacobs’s case. “I have no faith that the NPA will make the right decision in this case. Justice delayed is justice denied and this case has been ongoing for years,” said Werner.