NPA considers charging rich cop

2008-05-16 00:00

KZN’s Director of Public Prosecutions is probing Durban’s millionaire cop S’bu Wiseman Mpisane, considering whether to charge the Metro cop with his alleged role in a bloody attack on Durban’s High Court that left three dead and dozens injured.

The Citizen newspaper this week reported that Mpisane, who works for the Durban Metro police Dog Unit, had been implicated — and confessed to — playing a role in a plot to commit murder at the high court. Now the National Prosecuting Authority are re-examining the decade-old case.

A spokesman for the NPA said the KZN DPP is contacting those who were involved in the original investigation to examine whether or not Mpisane managed to “slip through the cracks” and avoid prosecution. Many of the investigators have either retired or emigrated.

On June 21, 1998 several men were standing trial in the high court for allegedly murdering Moses Gcaba, a member of the wealthy taxi-owning Gcaba family of Umlazi. During the lunch recess chaos erupted.

While driving to Durban International Airport to conduct a search with his narcotics dog, Sergeant Craig van Zyl and his partner Solly Shozi saw five men walking across Victoria Embankment carrying AK47 rifles. Armed only with a handgun, Van Zyl challenged the men and a bloody gunfight erupted.

Van Zyl and two bystanders — one an an 80-year-old woman — died. Members of the Durban Metro police and SAPS managed to drive the gunmen off, arresting two and wounding one. Two men escaped, fleeing in a red BMW M5.

The now disbanded Durban Murder and Robbery Unit began investigations, assisted by the Special Presidential Taxi Task Team, a unit set up by former president Nelson Mandela to tackle taxi violence.

Detectives found a speed camera photograph of the getaway car — which clearly showed the driver. Mpisane was arrested, but not charged with being part of the murder conspiracy. He agreed to give the police a statement in exchange for possible immunity from prosecution.

Such a statement cannot be used as evidence against the person making it, but he is not guaranteed immunity, this is only decided by the judge after he testifies.

Mpisane’s statement implicated taxi boss Mandla Gcaba in ordering the attack on the court, to avenge his brother Moses’ death.

Mpisane confessed to having prior knowledge of the attack and said he drove the two escaping shooters to Gcaba’s home.

Gcaba and three others were charged with the murder of Van Zyl and two others. Mpisane was never charged. The case relied heavily on Mpisane testifying against Gcaba. But Mpisane never testified, vanishing shortly after the trial began. Judge Allan Howard postponed the trial for four months to allow detectives to locate the Metro cop, but he could not be found.

With no star prosecution witness, the high court acquitted Gcaba.

Mpisane appeared at work a week later, claiming he had been kidnapped, which could not be proved.

NPA spokesman Tlali Tlali told Weekend Witness that a preliminary investigation is under way into Mpisane’s alleged role in the high court attack. He said the probe is “in its preliminary stages” and the NPA is considering whether to register an investigation into Mpisane.

No disciplinary hearing was held by the Metro police into Mpisane. Municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe did not respond to requests for comment.

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