Inside Karvelas dossier

Date: 14 Jun 2007
Murdered principal named cops he accused of brutality Human rights activist and principal Nick Karvelas, who was gunned down in front of his Alberton home, feared for his life after his run-in with three "brutal" police officers. A dossier, which The Star has seen, contains copies of letters and statements Karvelas sent to Gauteng Police Commissioner Perumal Naidoo, Safety and Security MEC Firoz Cachalia and the Independent Complaints Directorate about the alleged assault of two burglary suspects by three Alberton policemen. Karvelas gave a detailed statement about the incident at The Sparrows private pre-school and primary school, for which he was arrested for obstruct-ing the course of justice. He named and accused two policemen, who, he claimed, brutally assaulted the suspects. "As these actions were causing my learners, staff and myself distress, I proceeded to request from the officer in charge that she ensures the assault by the two officers cease. "At this stage the two inspectors that were carrying out the assault on the suspects went ballistic and I genuinely feared for my safety. "In fact (name deleted) informed me, by screaming at me, that 'crime was out of control'. "He clearly believed that the perception he has, of crime being out of control, justified the body slams he had been executing on the suspects minutes earlier." The dossier also contains signed statements before a commissioner of oaths from people who witnessed what happened on April 20. Last week, Karvelas asked a high-ranking police officer to keep the documents safe. The officer, who was at the murder scene outside Karvelas's New Redruth home and spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity, said he believed the principal was assassinated. However, police are convinced he was killed by robbers. Meanwhile, Karvelas's best friend and attorney, Paul Casasola, who knew him for more than 20 years, said that on Tuesday - the day he was murdered - Karvelas had been meant to appear in court. He was due to appear in the Pretoria High Court because he and the Alberton Hellenic Community and several members of its executive committee were being sued for R2-million by a Greek Orthodox priest for defamation. But the priest withdrew the action two weeks ago, which meant Karvelas did not have to go to court. Casasola intimated that he did not believe the murder was motivated by robbery. "I am a civil lawyer, but I have my reservations about what happened at Nick's house. "Laptops and cameras were not taken. The gunmen also did not take his wallet or his 4x4 parked in the driveway. "They took his cellphone and the keys to his vehicle." Casasola yesterday went to a mortuary to identify Karvelas's body and was told that a postmortem would be held this week. The lawyer said his friend received many death threats following the charge he laid against the police after the incident outside his school. "He had pissed off the cops. He was the only one who had the balls to say what he believed, and he had the courage of his convictions." Other Alberton residents agree. The Star and Talk Radio 702 have received letters and SMSs praising Karvelas. Despite this, ANC councillor and estate agent Neil Diamond, who came under fire for saying Karvelas was a troublemaker and that his death was a relief to the community, yesterday said people were trying to make out that Karvelas was a folk hero and a saint, which was not the case. "It would be hypocritical of me to support that view," said Diamond, who claims Karvelas carried out a vendetta against him because 90% of his business was being conducted in the wealthy suburb of Meyersdal in Alberton. He felt Karvelas had an axe to grind with all the developers in the area and opposed any development in Alberton and elsewhere in Ekurhuleni. Diamond also claimed Karvelas started targeting him about two years ago, after Karvelas wanted to be included in the Alberante gated community. Legally, it could not be done because of the position of his property. "He then decided to use me as a soft target and put me under the microscope. "Nick took everything to tribunal level. He undermined people and manipulated the situation to suit him." The ANC's Ekurhuleni regional secretary, Sochayile Khanyile, sent the party's condolences to Karvelas's family, friends and colleagues. He also stressed that Diamond's view was not that of the ANC. The Hellenic community has called for the ANC to discipline Diamond for telling Talk Radio 702 that Karvelas could behave the way he did because he could always leave the country. But Izak Berg, chairperson of the Independent Ratepayers' Association and chairperson of the Alberton Community Police Forum, said: "Nick Karvelas never played the ball, he always played the man. He undermined people and manipulated situations to suit himself." Berg added that the suspects apprehended outside Karvelas's school had carried firearms. He said he received a threatening e-mail from Karvelas's lawyer after he came out in support of the police. "I would not want a policeman's job in this country, they risk their lives every day," Berg said. No arrests have yet been made in connection with the murder. By Anna Louw The Star 14/06/07 e1