No bail for blue light cop

2008-11-19 00:00

Refusing bail for the VIP Protection Unit member charged with attempted murder in connection with Saturday’s N3 shooting, a Camperdown magistrate said yesterday the court must send a clear message to police officers who deem themselves above the law that they are not automatically entitled to bail.

Magistrate Thys Taljaard found that Constable Hlanganani Nxumalo (28) had not discharged the legal onus on him to show that his release is in the interests of justice.

Taljaard said it seems the state has a strong case against Nxumalo.

Another important factor the court cannot simply pay lip service to, he said, is the history, reported in the media, that VIP bodyguards are “terrorising” the road users of KZN, have no regard for the law and do what they please.

He said that although there is no indication that Nxumalo was involved in other incidents, it would appear to be “the modus operandi used by these VIPs”.

“Can one … blame the media for referring to … the blue light gang of KZN?” asked the magistrate.

He said another important consideration is that the members of the VIP escort are police officers who are supposed to apply the law.

The magistrate said Nxumalo’s attorney, Musa Dlamini, “made much” of his client’s right to be presumed innocent, but the right to be released on bail and presumed innocent in a bail application are “parallel” to the interests of justice. Too often courts attach too much importance to this right and lean over backwards to accommodate accused persons in bail applications.

Nxumalo, a father of two living at Alexandra Road police barracks, did not give evidence. In an affidavit he said he intends to plead not guilty.

Nxumalo stated that “immediately after the incident” he reported it to 10111 (radio control) and to RTI traffic officers conducting speed timing. He maintained he “fully co-operated” with the police investigation and handed himself over to police at Camperdown.

The investigating officer, Inspector Muzi Mngadi, told the court that two motorists noted the registration of the black VW Golf involved. Inquiries established the vehicle was that of bodyguards of MEC Meshack Radebe. The driver was a Constable Ndlela and the passenger was Nxumalo.

Mngadisaid that after police contacted the MEC, he personally brought Nxumalo to the police station on Saturday afternoon.

He said witnesses reported the Golf with its blue lights was “trying to move all motorists out of the fast lane as they were rushing”.

“A Mazda … took time to move over as there was other traffic in the slow lane. At a later stage it did get some space and moved to the slow lane,” he said.

When the Golf drew parallel with the Mazda, Nxumalo allegedly signalled the Mazda with his hand to stop. When it didn’t, he allegedly fired two shots at the Mazda causing the accident, said Mngadi.

To his knowledge there was no emergency requiring the Golf to race.

Dlamini later suggested that Nxumalo and the driver were told that morning that the MEC needed to be fetched from Waterfall earlier than expected and that they were late.

Mngadi said Nxumalo did not deny firing the shots.

Defence witness Superintendent Petros Msibi — a friend — said Nxumalo phoned him to ask his advice on what to do. Nxumalo said he was “in an argument” with another vehicle and it “happened that he shot”.

“I was shocked,” said Msibi.

The case was postponed to December 11 for further investigation.

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