Strip club owner Phillips off the hook

2012-09-28 14:40

Strip club owner Andrew Phillips is off the hook on charges that he ran his strip club, The Ranch, as a brothel.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) today confirmed a permanent stay of prosecution in favour of Phillips on allegations that he was bringing foreign women into the country and forcing them to work at The Ranch.

The SCA lambasted the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the “inordinate delay” in Phillips’ prosecution which it called “inexcusable”.

Phillips was arrested in 2000 after his strip club was raided and was found not guilty by the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court in 2006.

The court discharged the case against Phillips because it found that the NPA had unlawfully appointed private advocates to prosecute Phillips.

The NPA appealed this judgment to the South Gauteng High Court, where it became bogged down because prosecutors and defence lawyers could not agree on whether the “improperly compiled” trial record could be corrected.

In the high court, Judge Kathy Satchwell ruled that the NPA’s tardiness in filing the trial record was evidence of the NPA’s “waning enthusiasm” for the pursuit of the appeal.

She found that without a complete record, “the epic continues without land in sight” and ordered a permanent halt to the prosecution.

The SCA today confirmed this order, saying Satchwell was correct “in laying the fault for the delay at the door of the NPA”.

It also slammed the NPA for a letter that was written to South Gauteng Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo, concerning the appeal.

The letter stated that the case “was a prime example of human trafficking as some of the prostitutes testified that they were brought to SA under false pretences and forced to work at The Ranch”.

The SCA said the NPA should know “better than to communicate with the head of a court on the merits of an appeal before it is heard”.

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