Justice for Baraka

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In the early hours of Friday morning, Baraka took his last breath trying to save his life from a taxi driver, who is believed to be Afro-phobic. We live in a society where the colour of your skin, your accent, and the clothes you were makes you a target for violent behaviour that stems from people’s lack of knowledge. On the 23rd of February 2018, Baraka Leonard Nafari, a PhD student at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) from Tanzania, fell victim to such sadness.

A CCTV at the University of Johannesburg shows Baraka and a fellow UJ student running for their lives whilst two men in a taxi continued to pursue them. The taxi then deliberately struck Baraka against the fence of the University of Johannesburg’s Sophiatown residence in Auckland Park, which lead to his fatal death. The murder is believed to be a senseless act of Afro-phobia as Baraka was wearing his traditional attire during the rampage.

The driver of the taxi was arrested by the Brixton police for driving without a license and was later on released on bail. The other person in the taxi was released without any charge, as the Brixton Police station and UJ protection services assumed that Baraka’s body was of a ‘homeless person’. The Brixton Police believed the version of the events that was given by the driver of the taxi – a man who was found slumped in his taxi next to the dead body.

On the 5th of March 2018, a memorial service was held outside the Sophiatown residence where Baraka was murdered. The African Diaspora Forum held “Justice for Baraka” posters as their chairperson spoke of the inefficiency of the police to conduct the investigation. Emphasis was placed on the incompetence of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Brixton police as pressures were placed by colleagues of Baraka to further investigate the murder.

The African Diaspora Forum sent a letter of demand to the UJ, requesting paid damages to the family by full coverage of the funeral, transportation of the body to Tanzania and a private investigation on the murder of Baraka.

Chairperson of the Student Representative Council (SRC), Lehlohonolo Maimela showed empathy and solidarity to the tragedy that was Baraka’s premature death. Emphasis was placed to “refrain from speculation” as investigations were not complete. Colleagues, professors and UJ staff came in numbers in support of the family.

The Economic Freedom Fighter Chairperson, Zwelakhe  and fellow comrade Claire Seruti urged the safety of students in and around the campus is not fully ensured by the UJ security. The UJ security is merely placed for the protection of campus grounds and not the protection of actual students as further deaths were mentioned due to security incompetence.

It is unfortunate that foreign nationals and black against black crimes still exist and continue to stay rife within South African soils. Nationality is not ground or justification for the murder of an individual right hence justice for Baraka needs to be served, the perpetrators of the murder need to be charged and convicted thus there needs to be progress in the investigation.

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Karabo believes in impact and developing the community as she involves herself in community engagement programs and volunteer work. She is a student at the Universiry of Johannesburg studying Strategic Communication in Marketing communication

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