Relief for PMB’s supercop

2013-06-11 00:00

LAWYERS for Pietermaritzburg detective Pipes Haffajee are considering taking legal action against the state after fraud charges were withdrawn against the well-known police captain yesterday.

Haffajee was arrested last October and his name added to a charge sheet in which three other men were charged 22 months earlier for an alleged scam at Mountain Rise police station to lodge fraudulent claims for informers’ fees.

Yesterday, state advocate Ayesha Bissessur told regional court magistrate Jennifer Anthoo that the state had decided to withdraw the charges against Haffajee and one of his co-accused, Allen Ndlovu, following representations made to the director of public prosecutions.

The prosecution yesterday also presented an amended charge sheet in respect of the remaining two accused in the case, Mbongeni Dladla and Vusumuzi Madonsela.

Haffajee’s attorney, Kogulan Chetty of the firm Chetty, Asmall & Maharaj, said on his behalf that it is believed that the charges against Haffajee were an attempt to “smear his good name and reputation”.

“The decision to prosecute him was very ill-conceived and the withdrawal of these charges is a vindication of his protestations of innocence,” said Chetty.

He said Haffajee is a very well known and well respected police officer and they are considering civil action against the state for wrongful prosecution.

Chetty said it was significant that the other accused were charged in the matter on December 8, 2010, while Haffajee was only added as an accused in October 2012.

He has had to endure the charges hanging over his head for eight months.

Shortly after his arrest, Haffajee told The Witness he believed the charges were rooted in professional jealousy.

“All I can say is that this is a personal persecution and that my surname and track record irritate certain police officers.”

Haffajee is a policeman with more than 38 years’ experience and he and his team lay claim to numerous high-profile arrests and convictions.

Some of these cases include the March 2009 murder of six-year-old Raelin Devnarain, who was bludgeoned to death with a hammer during a robbery; the murder of retired Northdale nurse Maalthie Mownchan (65) in September 2011; the murder of Northdale widow Venotha Ince in April 2012 and the murder of Caroline Rajah, who was bludgeoned to death by her husband, Madhan Maharaj, who was arrested last year after almost seven years on the run from police.

The two men charged for the murder of Raelin Devnarain and attempted murder of the boy’s mother, Pradantha, were sentenced to life plus a total of 35 years’ imprisonment; Maalthie Mownchan’s two killers were jailed for life plus 15 years, and Venotha Ince’s killer was recently jailed for life plus 15 years.

Madhan Maharaj, who pleaded guilty to his wife’s murder, is currently set to appeal his 18-year jail sentence.

It was reported by The Witness that Haffajee and his team were awarded a trophy for the best performing detective unit at the Mountain Rise police station awards in December 2011.

Meanwhile, the case against Dladla and Madonsela was yesterday adjourned to July 29.

According to the amended charge sheet, it is alleged that the two men were attached to the detective unit at Mountain Rise police station at the relevant time.

One of their duties was to make use of paid informers.

In the present case, it is alleged that claims were lodged by the accused for informers’ fees in respect of three people — Bongani Mbambo, Sibongile Christina Ngongoma and Nkululeko Cyril Mswane — who in reality were never registered as informers, did not provide information to the police and received no money from the SAPS.

The officers are charged with fraud, alternatively theft by false pretences, of amounts totalling R109 500 between August 2006 and August 2009.

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