Thursday, 3 February 2011

Investigation Update - Nortje

This blog reported on the murder of Johan Nortje which lead to a call for an urgent investigation by the local police force assisted by Interpol and the World Customs Organisation. The call has lead to numerous testimonials and strong support by anti-counterfeit teams in law firms, brand owners, anti-counterfeiting groups, blogs, trade magazines and individuals from around the world. The voting has reached over 260 in favour of the investigation and a summary of the testimonials can be located here with previous updates here.

Afro Leo with the help of Izabella Panek spent over two hours trying to get in touch by telephone and email with Interpol's HQ, their South African Office, the World Customs Organisation and the KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Monnye Ngobeni whose office heads up the local investigation. The only joy came from Ngobeni's office who referred us to Brigadier Gopaul who informed Afro Leo that "he was not  in charge of the investigation" but he was "responsible for helping to deal with the affairs of Johan Nortje and his family". He explained that  we had to  "be patient" and would not comment on the investigation but admitted  that an "investigation was underway" and that he was aware of the calls from brand owners and the industry. 

The Brigadier went on to suggest that parties interested in making a contribution could do so directly to the family or by assisting with funding for training or facilities of the local office (readers who wish to do so please email afroipmail@gmail.com and we will gladly put you in touch.). Brigadier Gopaul was Johan Nortje's commanding officer and is also currently looking at ways to minimise the risk to individuals on his force.

Afro Leo read, with interest, the efforts of World Trademark Review's Trevor Little in Paris yesterday at the WCO Congress on combating Counterfeiting and Piracy who directed questions at the Secretary Generals (Ronald Noble and Kunio Mikuriya) of both Interpol and WCO about the incident. Both refused to comment on the investigation (which I suppose is one better than refusing to answer our emails and telephone messages). Trevor's post "Enforcement Agencies tight lipped over South Africa murder investigation" is contained here.

In summary, an investigation is taking place but the involvement of Interpol and WCO is unclear. I suppose at least they know about the incident and thanks to WTR for pressing the issue. Gopaul explained that the investigation would unlikely call on Interpol or the WCO unless they felt there was a need to. So we wait. The South African Authorities are under pressure for a full report.

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