Manager acquitted of baboon insult

2011-11-29 00:00

FIDELITY Guards manager Derrick Cross (56) was cleared by a Pietermaritzburg magistrate yesterday of an allegation that he had called an ATM security guard, Nhlanhla Mbanjwa, a “baboon” on November 10 last year.

Mbanjwa alleged that Cross used the insult when he confiscated his cellphone while he was on guard duty at the ATM machines at Parklane shopping centre.

In his evidence, in which he denied calling Mbanjwa a baboon, Cross said he had confiscated Mbanjwa’s cellphone because he was using it in contravention of company policy while he was supposed to be guarding the ATMs.

He did not call him any names and said he had simply pocketed the cellphone and told Mbanjwa he could collect it when his shift ended.

Cross was acquitted yesterday of crimen injuria by Pietermaritzburg magistrate Celumusa Zungu, who found that the state’s case against Cross was weak, saying it was doubtful whether the Fidelity manager had in fact uttered the alleged insult.

She found that the testimonies of state witnesses in support of Mbanjwa had not corroborated each other.

Zungu said that it was doubtful whether an alleged key witness to the incident, Bethwell Zondi, had in fact been present when Cross was said to have called Mbanjwa a baboon.

Zondi’s evidence in court contradicted Mbanjwa’s own version as to when the incident allegedly took place.

The magistrate also found it was strange that Mbanjwa had initially told a shop steward, to whom he made a complaint, that there were no witnesses to the incident.

In addition, Mbanjwa’s supervisor, Anthony Clarke, testified that Mbanjwa complained to him that Cross took away his cellphone, but did not report to him that Cross called him a baboon when doing so.

Cross, who was represented by advocate Shane Matthews, did not wish to comment after the judgment.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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