Police must explain court case delay

2014-05-29 00:00

THE police have until 4 pm today to explain why they have filed an “eleventh hour” application to adjourn a case in which the family of a slain KZN taxi boss is suing the state for R2,1 million.

Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Gregory Kruger gave the police until 4 pm yesterday to prepare a written affidavit explaining the state’s conduct and postponed the hearing until this morning.

He also warned that if any unethical or unprofessional conduct was uncovered on the part of anyone, he would report it to relevant authorities.

Slain taxi boss Bongani Mkhize’s family members allege he was “executed” in February 2009 by members of the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit, and are claiming loss of support from the minister of Police.

In their response, the police claim Mkhize was lawfully shot dead after he opened fire on police during a car chase in Umgeni Road in Durban.

He was a suspect in the murder of traditional leader Nkosi Mbongeleni Zondi of Umlazi.

Prior to the shooting, Mkhize had obtained an interim interdict against the police to stop them harassing him or killing him — on grounds that he had reason to fear that they would do so.

The policemen allegedly involved in his shooting, are among 29 members of the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit who currently face criminal charges for Mkhize’s murder and others in Durban.

Yesterday the police applied to Judge Kruger to stay the civil proceedings until the criminal trial involving the policemen has been finalised.

Brigadier Wayne McCullough said in an affidavit it was clearly unlikely any of the police witnesses who had fired shots during the incident would answer questions in this case that might incriminate them in their pending criminal trial.

The Mkhize family lawyer, Petrus Coetzee, filed an affidavit opposing the adjournment.

Coetzee accused the police of trying to delay the matter, saying from the outset they had been “extremely unco-operative and dilatory”.

Coetzee said his team had spent almost 30 hours in preparation for the trial before the application for an adjournment was received. They’d consulted with expert witnesses and studied and summarised more than 1 300 pages of documents.

“If what is averred on behalf of the defendant [minister of Police] is true, namely that 146 charges have been preferred against more than 26 accused, then it is safe to say it may take years for the criminal prosecution to be finalised.”

Yesterday Judge Kruger also asked advocate Rod Cullum SC, who represented the minister of Police, why the police were “playing cat and mouse” over providing the names of the policemen allegedly involved in the shooting.

Cullum thereafter identified them as “Sagren Padayachee, Adriaan Stoltz, Christopher Lee, Thomas Dlamuka and Stanley Mfene”.

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