Views from the News 1: 23 March 2012

Views from the News

An agonising week awaits Rasuge family

Pretoria News

23 March 2012

Graeme Hosken

For the family of murdered Pretoria policewoman Constable Francis Rasuge, the next week will be one of heartache and pain.

The family will have to wait at least a week before an outcome of the analysis of a skeleton unearthed from the front garden of the home of the murdered policewoman’s former boyfriend, William Nkuna.

Rasuge, 27, disappeared eight years ago while walking from her parents’ Temba home to a nearby hair salon.

Nkuna, who has repeatedly made contact with Rasuge’s younger sister from prison, was sentenced a year later to life imprisonment.

The wait comes as Rasuge’s family try to piece together how the body was buried in Nkuna’s garden without anyone noticing.

The skeleton, which was discovered on Tuesday, was buried beneath two separate concrete slabs nearly 2m underground.

The bones were discovered after builders dug up a portion of the garden to lay a foundation for a new house.

The foundation was being laid in a spot that was formally occupied by an RDP house.

A source close to the investigation says that a theory that they are investigating is that Nkuna may have dug the hole from inside the RDP house, using the building to hide what he was doing.

“The front yard is exposed, so you would not be able to dig a hole without someone noticing what you were doing, even at a night.

“The depth and the amount of cement used to make the concrete slabs was vast, so if you were not surrounded by something to hide your activities you would easily have been seen,” said a police source.

For Rasuge’s family the wait is becoming unbearable. Said brother Edward: “We do not know what to do or think. We have been told a week and now we must wait. All we have been doing ever since Francis disappeared is wait. He told us he would take her and kill her and that we would never find her and that is what happened. Our hearts have been sore for so long and they continue to hurt.”

Rasuge said they were hoping that their wait for answers would end with a visit by senior provincial police and government officials next week. “Hopefully then the wait will end,” he said.

Asked what he wanted to know from Nkuna, Rasuge said he had nothing to say to him. “What does one say to someone who has done something like this to your family? He has always been so angry towards our family.

“I never thought he would want to speak to us, but for a while he phoned our younger sister Nini, despite her changing her cellphone number three times, telling her how he was progressing, what he was doing with his life and how he was studying to become a lawyer.

“He would tell Nini a lot of things, but she was not interested in talking to him,” Rasuge said.

Police spokeswoman Captain Katlego Mogale confirmed that the results of the analysis should be known in a week. “Only once the full report is known will we be able to reveal whether the skeleton is that of Rasuge; whether the bones are those of a woman, or the possible cause of death,” she said.

Mogale said the outcome of the results would have no effect on Nkuna’s sentence.

“If the skeleton is found to be of another body we will (look into) other cases,” she said.

Hawks boss’s suspension overturned

The Times

23 March 2012

Mhlaba Memela

KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Major Johan Booysen won a major battle in court yesterday when a judge ordered that his suspension be set aside.

Booysen – whose unit has been accused of acting as a death squad – brought an urgent application for the setting aside in the Durban Labour Court after his bosses served him with a suspension notice on Monday.

This was despite his successful application last month for an interdict to stop Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and national Hawks head Anwa Dramat from suspending him.

Police management ignored the Labour Court interdict – intended to keep him in his job until he was given a chance to respond to allegations of gross misconduct – and suspended him with immediate effect on Monday.

Booysen has been accused of failing to act on information implicating police officers under his command in the use of excessive force against suspects and the operation of a "death squad" at the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit.

The death-squad allegation relates to the shooting of Bongani Mkhize, a taxi boss, in 2009.

In December, the Sunday Times published pictures of police officers in what appeared to be a party mood. The newspaper reported that at least 51 suspicious killings had been linked to the alleged "hit squad".

The unit has since been disbanded and 10 policemen have been served with notices of intention to suspend them.

Booysen’s second victory means taxpayers will once again foot the legal bill because the police were ordered to pay his legal costs.

Yesterday, members of the Cato Manor unit packed the court gallery to give moral support to their boss.

Booysen reprimanded them when they joked before proceedings resumed.

After Judge David Gush made his ruling, they immediately left the court with Booysen, going to the nearby Royal Hotel, where he thanked those who had supported him.

Booysen told members of the unit not to gloat about his victory.

"I want to thank you guys for the support you have shown me. I’m real humbled by the SMSes and phone calls I have received from different people showing support," Booysen said.

"The support and calls I received from people show I’m doing the right thing."

His lawyer, Carl van der Merwe, said he and his client were considering pressing charges of contempt of court against the police because police management had ignored the Labour Court interdict on Booysen’s suspension.

Jail them for life, victim’s mom says

The Star

23 March 2012

Omphitlhetse Mooki

A FRENCH woman, whose son was murdered during a botched hijacking in Sandton in March 2010, has called for life imprisonment for her son’s three killers.

May Wehbe Rihaoui travelled from France to testify in aggravation, in the Johannesburg High Court yesterday, at the sentencing of her son’s murderers.

“The murder they committed can never be justified and deserves a maximum sentence. Frank was only 46 years old when he was killed and he had his whole life ahead of him. After they took his car, they had a choice to leave the scene, but they decided to kill him in cold blood,” said Rihaoui.

She testified shortly after Judge Margaret Victor had convicted Mzayifani Themba Dlakavu, Sihle Enoch Ngcongo and Tsietsi Drift Malupie on charges of murder, two counts of aggravated robbery and for possessing firearms and ammunition unlawfully.

Rihaoui told of how she had been hospitalised for depression after the three men had hijacked her son at gunpoint in Paulshof before shooting him dead.

The three men had driven to Paulshof’s Mowbray Close in a Citroën they had hijacked from a Ferndale woman at gunpoint seven days earlier, shot Frank through the head and driven off in his Audi A6.

Born “in Africa”, Frank had been living in SA for the past 15 years, Rihaoui said.

“That day we lost a son, a brother and father forever,” Rihaoui added in broken English.

Prosecutor Lwazi Ngodwana supported Rihaoui in her call for a life imprisonment, saying the men had not shown remorse for their actions.

But the three lawyers representing the men all asked Judge Victor to consider the fact that the men were breadwinners with minor children.

The judge was expected to pass sentence today.

Gardener convicted of murder

The Citizen

23 March 2012

Ilse De Lange

Judge Msimeki said Pretorius’s attackers had used maximum force and clearly had no concern if their victim lived or died.

A GARDENER who helped to cut off his former employer’s finger before bludgeoning and stabbing him to death was yesterday convicted in the North Gauteng High Court on charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Judge Winston Msimeki found Petrus Moloko, 26, of Mamelodi West guilty of murdering his former employer, Andries Pretorius, 64, during a robbery a his home in Waverley in August 2009. This despite Moloko’s claims he had nothing to do with the murder or robbery.

The elderly building contractor was found tied up with ties and lying face-down in a pool of blood in his house, which had been ransacked. His car was also missing.

Moloko was linked to the crime through his DNA found on a cigarette butt at the scene.

The court rejected his explanation that he had smoked inside the victim’s house months before while he worked there.

Teko Radebe, who is serving a 22- year sentence after pleading guilty to the murder, testified he and Moloko had planned to break into Pretorius’s house because Moloko claimed Pretorius owed him money.

He told the court how they had feasted on their victim’s whiskey while waiting for him to wake up, whereafter they attacked him with an empty bottle and knives before tying him up and ransacking his house. Afterwards, they had taken their victim’s car to a chop shop.

The judge said Pretorius’s attackers had used maximum force and clearly had no concern if their victim lived or died.

A third accused, Johnson Ramorei, walked out of the court a free man after being acquitted on both charges. He admitted selling Pretorius’s cellphone and being in possession of the victim’s SIM card, but said he had received the cellphone from Moloko as payment for helping to transport goods to Radebe’s house and knew nothing about the murder and robbery.

Radebe in his evidence confirmed that Ramorei had not been present during the robbery and had only been asked afterwards to direct them to a chop shop and to help transport the loot.

Bronx killing: 4 due in court

News24-sapa

23 March 2012

Cape Town – Four men accused of killing gay nightclub owner Bruno Bronn are expected to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

At a last appearance, the court heard that less than an hour after Bronn was murdered, three men arrived at a drug den in his car and exchanged his cellphone and a collection of R5 coins for tik.

Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Mervyn Bezuidenhout, was testifying in a bail application brought by Fareez Allie, 29.

A second accused, Kurt Erispe, was released on R10 000 bail late last month. State advocate Quenton Appels did not oppose bail, because he did not consider Erispe a flight risk.

The State is opposing Allie’s application on the grounds that the case is serious, that there is a strong case against him and his three co-accused, and that he faces possible life imprisonment if found guilty.

The other two accused are John Frederick Coetzee, who abandoned his application for bail, and Achmat Toffa, 35.

Bronn was found dead in his Sea Point home on the morning of February 7.

Charging of Hawks ‘a breakthrough’

Mail & Guardian

23 March 2012

Glynnis Underhill

Three years after the death of 24-year-old New Crossroads resident Sidwell Mkwambi, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has charged 12 Hawks members in the Western Cape with assault, torture and murder.

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) recommended that 14 Hawks members be charged, including top police investigator Piet Viljoen. He has not been charged yet.

McIntosh Polela, spokesperson for the Hawks, refused to comment.

At the time of Mkwambi’s death, Viljoen headed the Bellville South organised crime unit where the police officers worked before they moved to the elite Hawks unit. In March last year he also headed a Hawks special task team, taken from Cape Town to Gauteng by Hawks head Anwar Dramat, to investigate murder charges against former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

The 12 Hawks members are also accused of assaulting and torturing Mkwambi’s friend, Siyabulela Njova, who claimed in a statement to the police that he had seen unit members dragging a “limp” Mkwambi down a passage at their offices.

Death by torture
In 2009 Mkwambi died after allegedly being brutally tortured. His body was driven to a mortuary in a police van. The police have been accused of trying to cover up his alleged murder by claiming he had jumped from a moving vehicle.

His sister, Mildred Nopinki, said this week she was suing the police for his death.

“We have been told absolutely nothing by police.”

Nopinki said her brother’s ordeal began after two policemen from the organised crime unit were shot and injured in front of the family home. The police had come looking for Mkwambi and smashed down the doors of their home, she said. Mkwambi and Njova were picked up later by the police for questioning.

The NPA had not commented at the time of going to press.

Hawks’s torture cases increasing
Although the ICD sees the charging of the Hawks as a breakthrough, the number of cases of alleged torture by Hawks members in the Western Cape has risen to 33. Five of the Hawks members implicated by the ICD are linked to most of these, according to a source, but the police have not suspended them, as recommended by the ICD, until a decision has been made in all the cases.

“We are pleased that action has now been taken on this case, which has dragged on for an extremely long time,” said ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini. “We hope that the victims will finally get justice and the perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions.

“We also hope the NPA will prosecute this matter with vigour, which was not apparent in the way it was handled so far.”

Zuma fraud charges not laid to rest

Mail & Guardian

23 March 2012

Niren Tolsi

The debate over the review power of the courts was reopened this week by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal that went against President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The court ruled that the Democratic Alliance does have legal standing to request a judicial review of the 2009 decision to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma.

In doing so, it further affirmed the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law.

By confirming the DA’s legal standing, the appeal court has now opened the door for the political party’s application for a review of Mpshe’s decision to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court.

But the NPA has until April 3 to decide whether to appeal the judgment or, as directed by the court, to provide the DA with a reduced record of the information that Mpshe had when he decided to drop the corruption charges.

Appeals set to begin
It is likely that the decision will result in another prolonged round of appeals as the government and Zuma’s legal team try to prevent the merits from being heard before the ANC’s December elective conference.

The reduced record excludes written submissions and testimonies made by Zuma. However, it may well include the infamous taped conversations between former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and then-national director of public ­prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka about the timing of the reinstitution of corruption charges against Zuma in 2007, just after he had won the presidency of the ANC at its national elective conference in Polokwane.

The tapes were used by Mpshe to suggest political interference in the case against Zuma and their source and full contents are still not known.

Judge Mohamed Navsa, in a judgment written on behalf of a full appeal court bench and echoing various precedents of this and the Constitutional Court, noted that the exercise of public power must comply with the Constitution and the doctrine of legality.

Judicial review protected the "very essence of a constitutional democracy", said Navsa.

"Put simply, it means that each of the arms of government and every citizen, institution or other recognised legal entity are all bound by and equal before the law," said Navsa.

"Put differently, it means that none of us is above the law. It is a concept that we, as a nation, must cherish, nurture and protect. We must be intent on ensuring that it is ingrained in the national psyche. It is our best guarantee against tyranny, now and in the future."

In argument, counsel for the NPA and Zuma had conceded that a rule-of-law interrogation of Mpshe’s decision was permissible, but wanted it to be very narrow.

Navsa left the adjudication of "the extent to which a decision to discontinue a prosecution is reviewable" up to the lower court.

NPA’s decision ‘difficult to understand’
But criticism was reserved for why the NPA "persisted in pursuing the appeal on this aspect". Navsa found the prosecuting authority’s decision "difficult to understand" and said it did "not reflect well on the national director of public prosecutions".

At the time when the authority was lodging its objection, its national director was Menzi Simelane. He was placed on special leave following another appeal court judgment in December last year that invalidated Zuma’s decision to appoint him.

Navsa was critical of the NPA’s "piecemeal" litigation in the matter, which now appears to mimic the so-called Stalingrad legal approach so favoured by the president in the corruption litigation that preceded the charges against him being dropped in 2009.

But Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s epigram, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (The more things change, the more they stay the same), is not confined to Zuma.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu responded to the judgment by declaring that "it is clear that democracy can be undermined by simply approaching courts to reverse any decision arrived at by a qualified organ of state", suggesting that the courts were complicit in the DA’s attempts to "undermine and paralyse government".

DA smells blood
The DA, meanwhile, appears to be sharpening a strategy threaded to its successful application to have Simelane’s appointment declared invalid, namely testing the "rationality" requirements of a rule-of-law application for the judicial review of decisions by government.

Then, it argued successfully that Zuma’s decision to appoint Simelane was irrational because the president ignored documentary evidence, including the Ginwala inquiry’s damning findings that Simelane had been untruthful and misleading in his evidence before it.

The inquiry was investigating the suitability of Simelane’s predecessor, Vusi Pikoli, for that position.

The DA had also argued irrationality on the president’s part for not heeding or seeking to investigate the Public Service Commission’s report on Simelane, which recommended disciplinary proceedings against him for his testimony at the Ginwala Commission.

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