Jail officer slapped with arrest warrant

2012-07-20 00:00

A WARRANT of arrest was issued yesterday for a senior Correctional Services official who defied a judge’s order to appear in court to explain why awaiting-trial prisoners held at Pietermaritzburg’s New Prison are arriving at court late.

Judge Themba Sishi launched an inquiry following repeated delays in a trial caused by the late arrival of the accused, who face 18 charges, including the murder of bank manager Thembinkosi Mbatha during an armed robbery outside the Hluhluwe First National Bank in Zululand on May 31 last year.

State advocate Dorian Paver told the judge yesterday that senior Correctional Services officer Nompumelelo Radebe was aware she had been ordered to appear before the court yesterday as she had been told her presence was required by a colleague.

She had replied that she was not coming to court as she had not received a subpoena.

Paver asked that a warrant be issued for her arrest, which the judge duly authorised.

Radebe is expected to be brought to court today to explain the delays.

The court has also instructed the head of New Prison to appear before the inquiry.

Police constable Philani Zondi, who transports prisoners between New Prison and the regional, magistrate’s and high courts daily, told the court the blame lay with the prison authorities who kept him waiting for the prisoners to be brought to the prison’s reception area from where he brings them to court.

Colonel Rajendra Maharaj, head of crime prevention in Pietermaritzburg, said part of his duties for the past three months included the “mentoring” of the SA Police Service court staff.

He said he only became aware of the complaint about prisoners arriving late on Wednesday afternoon.

He promised to look into the matter immediately.

Paver said it was interesting to note that the accused arrived at court on time at 9.20 am yesterday because the court was “making a fuss”, proving that it can be done.

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