In The News

‘King of Bling’ case closed – State

Sowetan

16 Aug 2011

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

THE prosecutor in the robbery and kidnapping case against William Mbatha has closed her case, saying the state had done enough to secure a conviction.

Prosecutor Elize le Roux yesterday called her last witness, Lieutenant Colonel Johannes du Plessis, to explain how easily accessible a police uniform and the blue lights were.

Du Plessis told the Johannesburg high court: “For a private person it would be difficult to get hold of a police uniform as well as blue lights. The only way it can be done is through a police officer.

“To gain access, you must have a service number and an ID card. Without the ID card you won’t be allowed in the depot,” Du Plessis said.

He said the uniform depot was in Silverton, Pretoria.

Du Plessis said it was even more difficult to obtain blue strobe lights.

“You need to apply for them to be installed in the vehicle. It needs specialised installation,” he said.

Mbatha, also know as Mashobane, is facing 24 counts, including armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The trial continues tomorrow.

 
 

Concourt ruling on German order

Sowetan – Sapa

16 Aug 2011

JUDGMENT is expected in the Constitutional Court today on a German court’s restraint order for a possible attachment of South African property owned by a German citizen.

Alexander Falk, with business assets in the Western Cape, is appealing a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Falk was charged in Germany for economic offences in 2003.

The German trial court issued a restraint order for Falk’s property if a forfeiture order should be made at the end of the trial. This was registered in the Western Cape high court.

In 2006, the high court interdicted Falk from dealing with R54million he had in a South African bank account.

Falk went to court to set these aside as no forfeiture order had been made by the German court when his trial concluded.

The SCA held they could not be set aside while an appeal against the decision of a German trial court was still pending.

In the Constitutional Court, Falk argued his right not to be arbitrarily deprived of property – section 25 of the Constitution – had been infringed.

 
 

Arms-deal man fights Zuma delay

The Times

16 August 2011

Khethiwe Chelemu

 
 

Terry Crawford-Browne, the arms-deal activist, is opposing an application by the Presidency for permission to file court papers a month and a half after a Constitutional Court deadline.

He has asked the court to decide if President Jacob Zuma is constitutionally bound to appoint an independent commission of inquiry into the arms deal.

On May 16, the court ordered Zuma and Crawford-Browne to submit evidence in affidavit form. Zuma was expected to file by August 1 but missed the deadline and applied for an extension to September 15.

State attorney Katoro Chowe said Zuma and his legal team were still working on his affidavit but he expected that it would be finished by the end of this month.

Chowe said the affidavit had to be circulated among “certain individuals” who needed to respond to allegations about themselves.

“It is anticipated that these individuals will require at least two weeks to comment on the affidavit because some of them, in turn, rely upon advice,” said Chowe.

Crawford-Browne accused the Presidency of disrespect and dragging its feet, saying it had done nothing from May 5, when the postponement was granted, to July 12.

 
 

Court: prosecution malicious

The Times

16 August 2011

Philani Nombembe and Angela Gillham

 
 

Actuarial assistant Fred van der Vyver, who was acquitted of murdering his girlfriend Inge Lotz, will have to wait until next year before claiming damages from the state.

Yesterday, Van der Vyver won his civil case against Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa for “malicious prosecution”.

It was a highly publicised trial which culminated in his acquittal by Judge Deon van Zyl in November 2007. Van der Vyver claimed police deliberately provided the prosecution with false evidence against him.

Yesterday, Judge Anton Veldhuizen ruled in his favour and ordered the state to pay all costs for the suit, including those incurred for experts and advocates.

But Van Der Vyver’s lawyer, Brian Lowe, said they would have to go back to court to prove the damages Van der Vyver had suffered as a result of the case, unless a settlement is reached.

“[Van der Vyver] sued for R46-million but the judgment today does not mean anything regarding that. What the judge said is that the minister is liable for his damages. But obviously the damages must still be proven,” Lowe said, adding that the damages issue will more than likely only be addressed next year.

Van der Vyver, who is living in Cape Town, said: “I am relieved and grateful for what happened today. I don’t want to say more as I don’t want to jeopardise the case.”

His father Louis, a former tomato farmer from Queenstown who has moved to East London, said the family was “elated, but not surprised”.

Lotz’s mother, Juanita, said yesterday, “whatever the outcome, nothing can change what we lost”.

“Nothing can change the grief and enormous pain we have felt over the past six years and five months.”

Christian Botha, a private investigator hired by Van der Vyver to prove his innocence, welcomed the judgment. “Oh my, that’s good news. It’s a victory for justice for the fact that an innocent almost went to jail.

“I’m happy for the family because it took a hell of a strain on them. My client had to sell his farms. Imagine the family didn’t have that kind of money, he could have been in jail now for life,” he said.

Lotz, a student at Stellenbosch University, was beaten to death with a hammer and stabbed 17 times in her flat in March 2005. The only items missing from the flat were a knife and the remote control for the gate of the complex.

 
 

 
 

 
 

‘Memory loss’ of Middelburg murder accused questioned

The Times – SAPA

16 August 2011

 
 

 
 

There was no clear reason for the apparent memory loss of a Middelburg security guard accused of killing his wife, a psychiatrist told the High Court in Pretoria today.

Paul de Wet testified that murder-accused Johan McIntyre, 35, had not suffered from any mental illness or defect when he allegedly strangled his 19-year-old wife Zelda in a park in Pretoria North in February 2008.

McIntyre pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering and raping his wife.

He claimed they had consensual sex, but that his wife had started an argument and had scratched and bitten him.

He said in a statement he remembered holding both of her hands and telling her he was tired of fighting, but remembered nothing further until he phoned his mother and asked her to come to the park.

De Wet testified that there were no underlying physical or psychological reasons for McIntyre’s apparent memory loss.

He said it was possible that recalling the incident was painful and that McIntyre simply did not want to remember or talk about the incident.

Peter Thorpe, who rented a room from McIntyre’s mother, testified that McIntyre had visited him after the incident and told him he had “killed Zelda like he had planned”.

McIntyre said he now had his daughter and that he would do the same as he did to Zelda to whoever tried to take away his child.

Several witnesses earlier testified during the trial that McIntyre had repeatedly threatened to kill his wife because she thwarted his access to his baby daughter.

His sister Michelle testified that McIntyre had before the incident asked her to draw up a will and told her he wanted to tie up his wife and cut her throat.

She had not taken her brother seriously because she thought he would merely hit his wife, as had happened in the past, and would then be locked up.

McIntyre’s mother Marie testified that she and her husband had found her son bloodied and her daughter-in-law lying dead in the park after her son phoned and said he had just killed Zelda.

The court also heard evidence that McIntyre had told several witnesses after the incident that he had “bashed his wife to death”.

McIntyre is expected to start testifying tomorrow.

  
 

ATM bombers caught

The NewAge

16 August 2011

Abram Mashego

 A joint operation between the Hawks and members of the crime intelligence has led to a massive crackdown on a suspected ATM bombing gang.

The operation, which was conducted over the weekend, resulted in one suspect being killed and a former policeman being arrested.

The two suspects are allegedly part of a gang that has been operating in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela confirmed the death of a police reservist during one of the bombings in Pimville.

“The same gang was allegedly involved in the killing of a security guard in Vryheid and the shooting of a policeman in Ulundi,” he said.

Polela said guns, vehicles, explosive gels, detonators and battery packs used during the crime spree were recovered.

A search for more suspects belonging to what the police describe as “the most ruthless gang in ATM bombings” is continuing.

According to South African Banking Risk Information CEO Kalyani Pillay, a 30% increase in ATM attacks has been recorded so far this year compared with last year. “The attacks on ATMs remains a concern for the banking industry and we, together with the banks, are working with law enforcement to put measures in place to address this crime trend,” she said.

Those involved in these crimes came from the communities and for this reason Pillay urged people to come forward with information that would assist the police in their investigations.

It costs the banks between R150000 and R300000 to replace an ATM damaged by explosives, she said. The biggest cost factor was the infrastructure repair costs, which were based on the location of the ATM.

 
 

 Claustrophobic man sues police

Pretoria News

16 August 2011

A retired Benoni prison warder who suffers from claustrophobia and who was locked in a crowded police cell for 18 hours after being falsely accused of drunk driving, is claiming R300 000 in damages from the minister of police

Stoffel Coetzee, 62, told the Pretoria High Court that on December 20, 2006, he was involved in an accident with a taxi in then-Witbank.

He was told at the scene by the Metro Police to take a breathalyser test. The test was negative and the Metro Police conceded this in court.

The police officers at the scene insisted, however, that he had been driving under the influence of alcohol and arrested him. Coetzee was taken to a hospital for a blood alcohol test.

He was then taken to the Benoni police station, where he was locked in a cell for 18 hours. He was released the next morning.

He was charged with drunk driving and warned to appear in court.

The charges against him were withdrawn when the blood tests proved that he had not been under the influence of alcohol.

Coetzee said that while he was being locked in a packed cell, the police refused his wife, who was at the police station, access to give him his chronic heart medication. His heart condition aggravated his claustrophobia, he said.

According to a psychologist’s report submitted to court, Coetzee has chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.

He has flashbacks about the incident, recurring dreams, sleep deprivation and depressive moods.

According to the psychologist, there is “no doubt that his psychological condition is mainly because of his being arrested and thrown into jail”.

Coetzee is now on tranquillisers and sleep medication.

The court was told that he would need psychological treatment for at least three years.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius found that the police were liable for the damages suffered by the pensioner.

She is to rule on Thursday how much Coetzee is to receive in damages

 
 

 
 

Child porn suspect claims assault

News24

16 August 2011

Rowan Sewchurran

 Durban – Former policeman Andre Stephen Botha, who allegedly distributed graphic sexual pictures of children aged between four and 10, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Wearing blue overall pants and a checked shirt and sporting tattoos, the stocky man sat nervously in the dock, peering over his glasses to read a newspaper that featured him on the front page.

The 38-year old who was arrested in Welkom where he works for a construction company, served as an officer at the Bellair police station in Hillary in 2003 and was the subject of a Hawks investigation for the past four months.

Investigating officer Jason Reddy of the Hawks’ search-and-seizure unit told The Witness that Botha was found to be the source of 20 sexually explicit pictures of children being distributed via a chat room on the social network MXit.

“The man is linked to a larger child pornography syndicate operating in Nelspruit, Durban and Johannesburg and more arrests are imminent,” said Reddy.

He said the children were from the Malvern and Queensburgh areas of Durban. Botha faces a possible sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Represented by advocate Rob Sichel, Botha was denied bail on the grounds that investigators require more information and the case was adjourned until Thursday in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court.

‘Assaulted’

Sichel put on record that Botha was assaulted by officers while in detention at Westville.

“My client has sustained injuries to his ribs, his eardrums are perforated and handcuffs lacerated his wrists. Members of the South African Police Service assaulted him,” he said.

A twenty-something student, who is apparently in a relationship with Botha, was his only supporter at the hearing and he periodically turned around to glance at her. Botha was permitted to communicate with her briefly after the court proceedings.

Speaking to Hawks investigators outside the courtroom, Sichel said Botha is being tried by the media and the court needs to protect him from sensationalism.

“My client needs to be granted bail so that he can pay maintenance for his two children.

“This is a conspiracy and there should have been enough time to lodge a bail application by now at least,” he retorted when officers told him to allow the courts do their work.

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