Badul ‘a danger to witnesses’

2009-12-12 00:00

THE night after the first court appearance this week by co-accused of Mountain Rise police station’s suspended station commissioner, Harriram Badul, a wreath of white flowers and blue ribbons was laid across the driveway of the safe house from which the investigating team is operating.

This evidence was led before regional court magistrate Chris van Vuuren yesterday by a member of the investigation team, Inspector Robin Mays, who was opposing the granting of bail to Badul.

Mays said his main objection to Badul’s release on bail is fear for the safety of state witnesses, and that Badul will tamper with evidence, as there is proof he did so in the past.

He alleged that two dockets found at Badul’s Bishopstowe farm concern previous investigations against him (as well as another senior policeman from Mountain Rise) for theft and theft of exhibits, indicating that they were hidden to prevent further investigations taking place.

He also said Badul allegedly told a state witness in November “not to co-operate with police” and told another to ”disappear”, and made threatening calls to the former KZN head of the Independent Complaints Directorate, Thabisa Ralo, when she investigated the crime statistics at Mountain Rise police station. He allegedly told her he would “deal” with her and show her “who is running KwaZulu-Natal”.

Mays said a Superintendent van den Heever, who investigated the 1996 theft of exhibits case against Badul, has also told investigators that at the time shots were fired at his house and he believed this was linked to the investigation.

A frail-looking Badul, who has produced medical reports showing he is gravely ill, was wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair. He was transferred to the dock and remained seated throughout the proceedings. Family members and supporters brought him water and cushions.

State advocate Wendy Greef said the prosecution accepts medical reports showing that among other ailments he has a tumour in the centre of his chest “compressing into the right side of his heart”.

His attorney, Petrus Coetzee, said Badul is due to undergo a pre-surgical procedure on Monday before major surgery to remove the tumour.

However, attempts are to be made to postpone Monday’s operation if possible to enable Badul’s bail hearing to be finalised.

The defence has questioned how Badul can pose a threat to witnesses and the investigation after undergoing a major operation expected to require six weeks’ recuperation.

They also submitted he is being “put under pressure” by the suspension of his state benefits due to his incarceration.

He is due to retire in January.

Mays testified that the charges facing Badul at this stage are fraud and theft totalling a proven amount of R467 000.

Further charges such as corruption and racketeering are still being contemplated and further investigations are likely to take another one to two months to complete.

Mays said investigators are divided over whether or not Badul might flee if given bail. He personally believes the fact that he has family here, a good deal of money, and owns several properties and a farm is sufficient to keep him in South Africa.

Mays said, however, the Asset Forfeiture Unit has been in touch with the investigation team, and forfeiture of his assets is a possibility.

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