Imbali pub owner acquitted after police raid

2011-12-15 00:00

THE owner of the popular Imbali pub and restaurant, 033 Lifestyle, Malusi Ntshangase, was acquitted yesterday of selling alcohol without a licence in a trial marked by controversy.

The magistrate accused the prosecutor of attacking her integrity, while a state witness was found to be unco-operative.

Ntshangase was arrested after a raid on the restaurant on October 21.

Responing to the acquittal, restaurant manager Bonga Mhlongo said police had forced the place to close during the trial.

He alleged that the police failed to produce a search warrant during the raid and that they confiscated liquor. “We are relieved by the court ruling that shows that our business is a legal operator in the area.”

During the trial state prosecutor Shireen Govender asked that magistrate Amanda Bezuidenhout recuse herself as presiding officer, claiming that she was biased and that she had discussed the case with the defence attorney before court proceedings.

Advocate Sydney Albert opposed the application, saying he had not discussed the case with the magistrate.

Bezuidenhout refused Govender’s application, saying the prosecutor had attacked her integrity and that the director of public prosecutions should take action. She found that the state witness had deliberately confused cases and “was unco-operative”.

033 Lifestyle employee Mhlengi Ndawonde appeared in court yesterday on the same charge.

Magistrate Zodumo Dlamini said it was strange that an employee was charged and not the owner. The state was given a week to finalise its case.

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