Women’s wails upset court

2007-12-11 00:00

The sober atmosphere of the Pietermaritzburg High Court was shattered yesterday by the wailing of three women upset by their impression that a man found guilty of assaulting their husband and brother was about to “get off scott free”.

Sentencing of the accused, Shane Redgard (31), has been postponed to March 19 in Ramsgate while the defence obtains a correctional supervision report to determine whether or not Redgard is a suitable candidate for such a sentence.

The public gallery was crowded yesterday with the friends and relatives of the victim, K.O. Bonginkosi Dlamini, who died on August 16, 2005, some weeks after he was found to have been assaulted by Redgard, then the operations manager of Eston-based Farm Protection Unit.

Redgard was recently found guilty by Judge Herbert Msimang and assessors of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, but acquitted of murder and kidnapping charges. The assaults happened at the FPU base following Dlamini’s arrest while he was hunting with dogs on farm land in the Eston district on July 24, 2005.

Redgard’s co-accused, the owner of the FPU, Lance Moller (35), was acquitted of all charges.

The court found that while it was proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Redgard did assault Dlamini at the FPU base by “kicking him with booted feet on his head and on his body”, it was not proved that the assault by Redgard contributed to Dlamini’s death.

Emotions have run high in the community since the initial court appearances of Moller and Redgard, along with Justin Lusso and Nicholas van Rooyen, who later turned state witness in the case.

When charges were withdrawn against the four men in September 2006, community members staged a sit-in at the high court and KZN Judge President Vuka Tshabalala undertook to take up their grievances.

Despite this, police later had to set off stun grenades to control the unruly crowd.

Subsequently, the Director of Public Prosecutions reinstituted charges against Moller and Redgard.

Before yesterday’s hearing, state advocate Dorian Paver explained the reasons for the anticipated postponement to family members, Myaluza Dlamini (Dlamini’s nephew) and Josephina Gumede (his sister), as well as the Reverend Thula Ndlazi.

When they raised concerns that the family are “too poor” to attend the sentencing in Ramsgate, Paver arranged for the investigating officer to transport family members to the hearing at state expense.

Later, while Judge Msimang was being addressed by counsel, three women identified as Gumede, and two of Dlamini’s four wives — Flora and Bathobile — began wailing and crying hysterically. They shouted that Dlamini’s children are “starving”.

The women fought and struggled as, on the judge’s orders, they were removed from court. They sat on the floor in the foyer and continued to wail loudly.

Gumede, who lay prostrate on the floor, was later attended to by paramedics before being taken to Northdale Hospital. The Witness was told she appeared to be “dehydrated”.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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