Last chance for cops in Spear case

2012-06-28 13:28
The Spear (File, City Press)

The Spear (File, City Press)

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Johannesburg - A magistrate lost patience with the police on Thursday in a court case arising from the defacing of a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma.

Johan Engelbrecht said the police had one last chance to complete their investigation, or the matter would be struck from the roll.

"This situation has reached alarming proportions," he said at the appearance of the two accused in the Hillbrow Magistrate's Court.

"I have become tired of complaining about the SA Police Service and their conduct on a daily basis."

Barend la Grange and Louis Mabokela are accused of defacing artist Brett Murray's painting The Spear - an acrylic depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed. It was part of Murray's Hail to the Thief II exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.

Malicious damage to property


The ruling ANC was alerted to the painting after an article appeared in City Press newspaper. The gallery refused its demand that the painting be removed.

On May 22, La Grange and Mabokela were filmed painting over the already sold work with red and black paint. They face charges of malicious damage to property. Both are out on bail of R1 000 each and have not been asked to plead yet.

La Grange and Mabokela stood in the dock while prosecutor Frederik Bukes said a further postponement would be necessary. This was because the investigating officer had not complied with any of the instructions given at the previous proceedings of May 23.

The investigating officer was also not in court, Bukes said, to which Engelbrecht replied, "of course".
September 4, was suggested as the next court date.

Engelbrecht reacted by saying: "I am alarmed by the fact that the investigating officer has found it necessary to not make himself available today, and not explain why he didn't comply with the prosecutor's instructions.

"My concern is that the police in this area have lost their vision and have forgotten that they are there to serve the public."

Situation likened to police brutality

Engelbrecht said he could not decide whether the police were sabotaging cases, were lazy, or incompetent.

He likened the situation to police brutality. When people were arrested, they had to pay lawyers and they might have to wait in police cells.

"This is also a form of police brutality. It seems to me that the police do not understand their duty. It is easy to turn the lock of the key in the cell door, but it is not easy to finish the process."

Engelbrecht said he would not hesitate to the strike the matter off the roll on September 4, if the situation remained the same.

A third man, George Moyo, was arrested for spray-painting "res", the first syllable of "respect", on a wall outside the Goodman Gallery. He appeared in the Hillbrow Magistrate's Court separately on Wednesday and was also out on R1 000 bail.

Security guard Paul Molesiwa, who was filmed flipping Mabokela to the ground after he was apprehended, was also arrested, for assault, and was also out on R1 000 bail.

- SAPA

Read more on:    goodman gallery  |  police  |  jacob zuma  |  brett murray  |  johannesburg  |  zuma painting
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