ANC supports KwaZulu-Natal graft accused
Business Day With Sapa
02 August 2011
THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks had not properly handled the case against KwaZulu- Natal legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni and economic affairs and tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu, the African National Congress (ANC) in the province said yesterday.
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala and representatives of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the South African Communist Party and the South African National Civic Association, were commenting after Ms Nkonyeni and Mr Mabuyakhulu were each granted R100000 bail in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
The two, together with Ronald Green-Thompson, former head of the provincial health department, were granted bail and told to report to court on January 20 next year. Dr Green- Thompson paid R40000 bail.
The trio face corruption and fraud charges relating to a R1m donation to the ANC paid by South American businessman Gaston Savoi.
The donation was allegedly in exchange for a R45m tender to supply water purifiers to state hospitals at inflated prices.
Ms Nkonyeni was MEC for health and Mr Mabuyakhulu was ANC provincial treasurer when the alleged frauds occurred. The charges brought against the three last Thursday bring to 23 the number of accused in the matter.
In court yesterday in support of Ms Nkonyeni and Mr Mabuyakhulu were Cosatu provincial secretary Zet Luzipo, Mr Zikalala, ANC provincial deputy chairman Willies Mchunu and the provincial deputy secretary of the party, Nomusa Dube.
Mr Zikalala said they trusted the “bona fides” of Ms Nkonyeni and Mr Mabuyakhulu and the accused were innocent until proven guilty.
Mr Zikalala said the fact that Ms Nkonyeni and Mr Mabuyakhulu had heard about their “imminent arrest” in the media, before they were formally charged, had smacked of old-time tactics used by the Scorpions who were “more interested in hogging the headlines than dispensing fair justice”.
Going public over the arrest warrants before Ms Nkonyeni and Mr Mabuyakhulu knew about the matter had subjected them “to a court of public misconceptions,” and had caused their constitutional rights to be, “in our view, violated,” Mr Zikalala said. There was no reason to suspect, as had been speculated in some media, “that there is an internally hatched plot against these individuals”.
According to the Sunday Independent, Ms Nkonyeni and Mr Mabuyakhulu could escape charges because a state witness had withdrawn a statement implicating them.
The Sunday Times reported that the NPA had denied claims that KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize — the highest-ranking official implicated in the case — had turned state witness in exchange for indemnity from prosecution.
“There is no section 204 witness in that case,” the paper quoted NPA head Menzi Simelane saying, referring to the Criminal Procedure Act.
02 August 2011
Judge Brian Southwood, in a judgment concurred with by two fellow judges, set aside the man’s convictions and 21-year sentence.
He also expressed concern that the appeal took three years before it was heard and requested the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the delay in the appeal hearing.
The father, who cannot be named to protect his teenage daughter, insisted from the beginning that the allegations against him were fabricated and part of a conspiracy against him by his wife and other family members.
The “victim” told angry community members earlier that her father did nothing to her and that her mother and aunt had forced her to implicate him.
The mother and aunt, the judge said, “embellished their evidence as it progressed”.
While the father was a poor witness, this did not justify a finding that he was guilty of rape and indecent assault, the judge said.
To make matters worse, the father, who maintained from the start that he did nothing to his daughter, was denied leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence.
He had to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) for permission, which was eventually granted. The SCA referred the matter to a full Bench of the high court.
The father was convicted in the Pretoria Regional Court in October, 2004, and the matter was referred to the high court for sentence.
Judge Johan Els, who has since died, confirmed the conviction and sentenced the man exactly six years ago today to 21 years in jail.
His daughter testified earlier that one night in August, 2002, while her mother was attending a funeral in Polokwane, her father came home drunk.
After beating her with a metal studded belt, he forced her to sleep with him on his bed.
She claimed he then raped her. According to the child, on another date she could not remember, he “playfully” touched her buttocks while she was washing the dishes.
Judge Southwood said clearly the appeal against the indecent assault conviction must succeed, as the charge sheet read that the father touched his daughter’s breast and genitals, yet the child said he playfully touched her buttocks, which objectively seen, could not be said to be an indecent act.
The judge said the father should never have been convicted on this charge, as there was a glaring contradiction between the case alleged on the charge sheet and the version of the child.
The mother testified that the child at first only told her that she was beaten by her father, but that she later told her aunt about the rape.
The aunt said the child told her mother and that the mother told her.
While the father maintained that he was the victim of a conspiracy, the judge said this could very well be so in the light of the child’s telling community members that her mother and aunt forced her to implicate her father.
He said the child’s version about the alleged rape was unconvincing.
The judge concluded that it was a matter of “great concern” that the appeal was only enrolled three years after the appeal court gave permission for it.
The father had obviously been prejudiced by this delay and this should be investigated, he said.
01 August 2011
JOHANNESBURG – Criminal prosecution of those implicated in the controversial arms deal saga will fall flat because of a lack of political will in the Justice Department, the head of Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) said yesterday.
Scopa head Themba Godi said while he welcomed renewed efforts by the Hawks to undertake a fresh probe into the ongoing saga, he sees little commitment from Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and his ministry to move on the matter.
He said he doubted the department’s commitment to see those implicated prosecuted, saying he could not recall a single instance in which the department had applied for “mutual legal assistance” as required to get information that could lead to prosecution of those embroiled in the scandal.
“There was never an instance where the department had applied for mutual legal assistance in the countries where information could be obtained to conclude the probe. It is not an administrative glitch, in my view it is a reflection of the ab- sence of political will,” Godi said.
The head of the Hawks, Anwar Drama, recently said he would contact authorities in Europe to probe whether any South African should be prosecuted over the arms deal saga.
He had written to Scopa on what is believed to be a renewed push to open the probe to uncover those who “illegally benefited” from the arms deal and to bring the perpetrators to book.
Earlier this year the Swiss arms manufacturer Saab admitted it and British aircraft supplier BAE Systems had paid millions in bribes to those involved in the saga.
Justice department spokesman Tlali Tlali was not available for comment after several calls.
01 August 2011
Ilse de Lange
JOHANNESBURG – A full bench of the North Gauteng High Court has confirmed a Benoni magistrate’s conviction of fraud after he “tried” a repeat traffic offender in the absence of a prosecutor and let him get away with a warning.
Judges Pieter van der Byl, Brian Southwood and George Webster dismissed the appeal of Lefa Bernard Maruwa against his conviction on 11 counts of fraud.
They also dismissed his appeal against his R5 000 fine although they said the sentence was on the lenient side, especially where such actions were not in the public interest and inclined to discredit the judiciary in the eyes of the public. Maruwa was an additional magistrate in Benoni in 2005 when he convicted a taxi driver of 11 traffic offences, but cautioned and discharged him on each charge.
The “trial” took place in Maruwa’s office in the absence of a prosecutor, but the magistrate pretended in documentation that the prosecutor had been present.
This eventually resulted in Maruwa’s conviction on 11 charges of fraud.
He said he could not contact the prosecutor that afternoon – which was denied.
Maruwa said he wanted to help the taxi driver because it was late in the day and he did not want him to be held in custody overnight because of “relatively minor traffic
The taxi driver was fined for anything from driving without a licence to driving a vehicle with worn tyres and ignoring a traffic sign.
Judge Van der Byl said the inescapable inference was that Maruwa had an intention to let the man go unpunished.
It appeared the misrepresentations were made to conceal his conduct.
Clerk wreaks havoc at police station
02 August 2011
The man then turned the gun on himself, dying instantly in the office of station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Thandi Mkhize on Monday afternoon.
On Monday evening, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and Gauteng police commissioner General Mzwandile Petros were at the scene and told the media what had happened at about 3.45pm.
The assailant, who police have yet to name, apparently entered Mkhize’s office in possession of a handgun believed to be a service pistol. He is said to have worked as a civilian clerk at the police station.
Mthethwa said the man had been taken through the disciplinary process “because of wrongdoing related to the gathering of firearms.
“He was found guilty and was about to be handed a judgment to be expelled,” said Mthethwa. “The member was not supposed to have a firearm on him.”
Mthethwa said the man was disciplined because he had been found guilty of “mishandling” firearms and had been fired because he was involved in helping to put firearms in the wrong hands.
The minister said this was the motive for the attack.
Police believe the gunman emptied 15 rounds into Mkhize and Captain Neelavathi Naidu.
Naidu was shot through through the heart and died instantly. Mkhize was rushed to Netcare Milpark Hospital on board a police helicopter.
On Monday night, police at the station said Mkhize had been operated on and transferred to the intensive care unit.
Milpark spokeswoman Erin Walsh declined to comment on Mkhize’s condition.
“Netcare can’t comment on the status of the patient because of patient confidentiality,” she said.
Petros would not be drawn into whether the civilian was on or off duty, nor would he say how he had obtained the firearm.
Ballistic tests would be conducted on the gun.
Rosebank Community Policing Forum member Philip Pybus, who worked closely with Mkhize, last night called her a first-class policewoman, whose courage sometimes bordered on stupidity.
A story often told is how Mkhize once chased a suspect down a stormwater drain. “She did her job, and her one ambition was to stop crime,” Pybus said.
He credited a decline in crime in the Rosebank area to Mkhize.
Pybus said he had also worked with Naidu, who had a child and worked in the station’s administration office. By 4.30pm, the entrance to the police station had been cordoned off and curious onlookers had gathered around to get a glimpse of events.
Some onlookers had even climbed onto the wall of Rosebank’s Crowne Plaza hotel.
Gauteng’s top cops, including Gauteng head of detectives Norman Taioe and Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya, had gathered at the station. Petros had rushed to the scene from a meeting with reservists.
Mthethwa arrived about 90 minutes later and joined the solemn police officers at the scene.
So far this year, 57 police officers have been killed in South Africa.
Late on Monday night neighbours had left a white mug with three burning candles on Naidu’s home wall, and her house was in darkness.
Rosebank cop still critical
02 August 2011
“We are just praying she improves,” Lieutenant Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou said.
At 3.45pm on Monday the clerk entered the Rosebank police station, went into the station commissioner’s office and shot her and a colleague.
The captain and the clerk, who turned the gun on himself, both died on the scene. Their names would not be released until their next of kin were informed.
Ndou said everyone who worked at the Rosebank police station had been receiving counselling since Monday evening.
Social workers, chaplains and psychologists were on hand to help with the provincial commissioner’s employer assistance service.
“It is very sad and tragic and a difficult situation,” he said.
“You can’t be at peace when something like this happens.
“You will always be shocked when one of your own turns on you in the organisation. It’s very painful,” Ndou said.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Monday could not say if the man was on duty or suspended. He was found guilty of mishandling firearms at a disciplinary hearing last week.
02 Aug 2011
TWO men are expected to appear in the Reitz regional court tomorrow in connection with the death of a local farmer whose body was found buried in a shallow grave.
Free State police spokesperson Sergeant Mmako Mophiring said the men were arrested after allegedly breaking into a farmer’s house and killing him.
“The farmer’s son, who lives in Bethlehem, called the house at around 5am to check on his parents, and was surprised when one of the suspects picked up the phone.
“Realising something was wrong, he quickly alerted the police, who rushed to his parents’ house,” Mophiring said.
He said on arrival, they found the farmer’s wife and his mother tied up.
“They were tied up with rope and his 85-year-old mother had been raped.
“His wife is disabled and uses a wheelchair. But she was fortunately not hurt.”
One of the men was allegedly recently employed at the farm.
Mophiring said this could have made the men’s entry into the house easier.
“We suspect he could have told his accomplice how to gain entry into the farmhouse.”
The farmer’s body was found near house, buried in a shallow grave.
“It looks as if he was hit with a blunt object on the back of his head. They then dragged him about 500m away from the house where they dug up a grave and buried him.
“He was still tied up when we found him.”
Mophiring said the two suspects were arrested at Fetsang township in Reitz yesterday.
02 Aug 2011
LEBOGANG Dakota, who was found guilty of murdering Sipho Dlwathi, was yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment.
He was also sentenced to three months for assault, seven years for attempted murder, five years for kidnapping, two years for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, three years for unlawful possession of a firearm and one year for unlawful possession of ammunition.
These will run concurrently with the life term.
Johannesburg high court Judge Lötter Wepener found Dlwathi’s murder to have been premeditated.
The next time Dakota is likely to emerge from prison, he will be a middle-aged man in a world different from the one he left behind.
He will be 53 years old.
His children, who are now aged five and four, will be 30 and 29 years old respectively.
Dakota was given a life sentence for shooting dead Dlwathi, their grandfather. A life term means Dakota will serve at least 25 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
In the meantime, Dakota may have to do without family visits, if current indications are anything to go by.
In a pre-sentencing report compiled by social worker Anette Vergeer, Dakota said none of his family members had been to Krugersdorp Prison to see him in the 10 months he had been incarcerated.
In passing sentence, Judge Wepener said he arrived at his decision after Dakota failed to explain why he murdered Dlwathi, his ex-girlfriend’s father last September.
Judge Wepener also cited Dakota’s lack of “true remorse”, arguing that he was only “sorry for his actions”.
The judge said: “We are not convinced that the accused has shown remorse for his actions.
“This court can find no reasons to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence.
“As we have already found, the murder was premeditated.
“It is the considered view of this court that the minimum sentence applies.”
The judge chastised Dakota for not protecting his children when he shot at them and their mother on September 4.
“The accused was charged with the responsibility of protecting, caring for and loving his children.
“Instead, the accused harassed their mother and fired shots while they were inside the house where their grandfather was shot and killed by Dakota,” Wepener said.
“He did not care for the dignity of others, their freedom of movement and safety.”
Dakota’s day went from bad to worse following the court’s rejection of his application for leave to appeal his sentence.
02 August 2011
JOHANNESBURG – Police officers get killed almost every week in the country, and this year alone, 56 police officers were killed, on the line of duty.
The most recent incidents occurred in Gauteng, where three police officers were killed while chasing crime suspects.
In a bid to combat the killing of police officers, Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa convened a summit, inviting all sectors of society to share ideas on how the problem can be eradicated.
Following the summit, Mthethwa announced the ministry’s plan of action to deal with the problem.
The plan includes: starting awareness campaigns, improving training of police officers, strengthening partnership with researchers and establishment of a multi-disciplinary committee.
It emerged during the summit that most police officers don’t wear bulletproof vests because they find them heavy and uncomfortable.
The ministry said it would now be the responsibility of police stations management to ensure officers wear bullet proof vests at all time.
The campaigns will encourage police members to wear bulletproof vest at all times and to treat each call to a crime scene as serious.
On the issue of training, Mthethwa said it was important to improve training of police officers, and it was agreed it will become a priority.
The training period was changed from one year to two, incorporating both theoretical and practical aspects.
And all police members will receive continuous refresher courses.
The ministry said more focused attention will be given to specialised training, firearm handling and ensuring officers are fully equipped with bullet proof vest when responding to crime scenes.
Ngcobo to chair JSC sitting for new chief
Business Day – Sapa
02 August 2011
ONE of outgoing Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo’s last jobs will be to chair a special sitting of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to discuss the public interviewing of whoever President Jacob Zuma chooses to succeed him, JSC spokesman Dumisa Ntsebeza said yesterday.
Mr Zuma is expected to announce his candidate for the post before Justice Ngcobo leaves office on August 14. Mac Maharaj, Mr Zuma’s spokesman, said that the processes to find a replacement for Justice Ngcobo by August 15 were under way. “We have assured the public that the appointment will be made before then. The president is going to consult the JSC and the leaders of the political parties.”
Last week, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced that Justice Ngcobo would step down after initially accepting an offer by Mr Zuma to extend his term by five years.
Justice Ngcobo’s decision came a day before a ruling by the Constitutional Court, which he heads, that Mr Zuma’s extension of his term under Section 8(a) of the Judges Remuneration Act was unconstitutional as he had not first consulted political parties and Parliament.
“The interview will take place in public,” Mr Ntsebeza said. Further details were not immediately available, but the special sitting was called by Justice Ngcobo as chief justice, in terms of the provisions of Section 174(3) of the Constitution, for the interviewing of the judge the president would appoint, this time preceded by consultation with the JSC and leaders of the political parties in the National Assembly.
Mr Ntsebeza said the section seemed to envisage a consultative process but he was not sure that it envisaged an invitation to apply for, or to receive applications for the position, ” nor has that ever happened in this country before “.
He said former president Thabo Mbeki nominated former chief justice Pius Langa without a call for nominations. Justice Ngcobo himself was interviewed at JSC hearings in Kliptown in Soweto in September 2009 after earlier being identified by Mr Zuma as ” preferred candidate” for chief justice to succeed Justice Langa.
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