Man fights to get ruined car back

2008-05-12 00:00

AN ex-police officer from Impendle whose car was attached by the state during a case in which he was later acquitted is battling to get the vehicle returned in its original condition.

Thulani Majozi (48) is also battling to get the state to pay the pound fees in full so that he will be allowed to remove his vehicle as ordered by the Durban High Court following his acquittal on charges of dealing in dagga.

It has been a whole year since the court ordered that his BMW 3-Series be returned to him. However, it is still kept in a brick-making factory outside Richmond, where it is exposed to rain, sun and thieves.

While at the pound run by the sheriff of the court, the vehicle was stripped of all four wheels, the front windscreen, left rear view mirror and floor mats.

The dashboard was also damaged as if someone was trying to remove it. Sheriff Bert Geerts, who also owns the pound in which the vehicle is kept, said he had a break-in two years ago, and criminals damaged the vehicle.

He said he opened a case at the Richmond Police Station, but he is not aware of its progress. Geerts said he gave the state a discount on the pound feed of R100 a day to compensate for the damage.

Majozi’s vehicle was attached in March 2004 while he was facing a charge of dealing with dagga for which he was arrested in 2003. The state alleged that he bought the car with the proceeds of crime.

“I won the [dagga] case in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court in 2006. In December [2006], the Durban High Court ruled that the vehicle be returned to me,” said Majozi.

“When the Asset Forfeiture Unit collected the car from my homestead, it was in good condition. But when I went to collect it from Richmond pound, I found it damaged.”

For the damages to his vehicle, Majozi opened a theft case at Richmond police station.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan confirmed the case. But the public prosecuting authority declined to prosecute as there was no witness to the damage of the vehicle.

To make matters worse, Geerts refused to repair the vehicle. Instead he demanded that Majozi pay a pound fee of R23 000 in order to have it released.

He said he should also take the vehicle while damaged.

“I told him [Geerts] that it is the state’s responsibility to pay [the] pound fee. I referred the matter to my attorney, who wrote a letter to the state attorney. In April this year Geerts told me that I should now pay him R3 000 since the state had already paid R20 000. I won’t pay something I’m not responsible for,” said Majozi.

Geerts confirmed that Majozi’s vehicle is still with him. He said that about two years ago, the state attorney paid a certain amount of money, which he could not recall, and informed Majozi to fetch it, which Majozi never did. Despite the fact that the vehicle had already been stripped, he insisted that Majozi should have collected it.

“I charge R100 a day to keep it. I think the pounding fee has accumulated to up to R30 000,” said Geerts.

When contacted, both state attorney Krish Govendor and his senior assistant Howard Roberts declined to respond, and referred the query to the provincial head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, Monty Moodley, who was not available last week nor over the weekend.

His office declined to release his cellphone number or provide an alternative person to respond to the queries.

bhans@witness.co.za

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