Cop loses bail bid ‘to feed family’

2008-08-14 00:00

A second bail application by a Pietermaritzburg police inspector charged with the rape of a 16-year-old girl last year failed yesterday, despite pleas on his behalf that he be allowed to return to work as his family is starving.

Defence advocate Brad Osborne told magistrate Celumusa Ndwandwe that the family of suspended policeman Skhosipi Thomas Khoza (45) is so cash-strapped that their attorney, Dean Strachan, has assisted them.

Khoza has been in custody for more than a year. Ironically, because he is officially a salaried employee of the SAPS, he also does not qualify for legal assistance.

His rape case has been set down for trial in the high court from November 12 to 14.

It is alleged that Khoza raped the teenager after she came to him for help following a row with her boyfriend.

When he appeared before Judge Leona Theron in May this year the case was on the “back-up” roll and was adjourned.

The judge ordered at the time that if the defence wanted to bring another bail application based on new facts, they should do so before Ndwandwe, who originally denied Khoza bail.

Yesterday Osborne urged Ndwandwe to reconsider, saying Khoza is now able to move to Elandskop area, some 30 km from where the crime allegedly occurred in Sweetwaters.

If Khoza is allowed bail, Osborne said, his suspension would be lifted and he could resume work and provide for his wife and children.

Responding to arguments by prosecutor M.S. Linda, who submitted that Khoza would nonetheless still pose a threat to the safety of state witnesses, Osborne said the only thing on Khoza’s mind is to take care of his family.

Ndwandwe said she is not convinced that Khoza will not interfere with state witnesses.

Evidence was led at a previous hearing of interference with the complainant, she said, referring to evidence that the young girl and her family were approached with a view to persuading her not to lay charges.

The evidence was not disputed.

“I previously indicated that the state has a strong case against the accused and if convicted I have no doubt he will face a harsh sentence,” she said.

She added that in view of the fact that the high court trial is due to proceed in the next three months, she does not believe Khoza would be seriously prejudiced by remaining in custody.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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