Sokhela refused bail

2009-12-24 00:00

SUSPENDED SAPS Inspector Michael Sokhela (40) was yesterday refused bail by Howick magistrate V. B. Zwane, who said that the defence had not shown exceptional circumstances justifying the granting of bail.

Sokhela, grim-faced during the two days of the application, did not show any emotion in the dock when refused bail. Many people attended the hearing and some showed their disappointment at the outcome.

The main charges against Sokhela are the murder of Dr Warwick Dorning, aggravated robbery of Dorning and his wife Dawn, and defeating the ends of justice.

Sokhela’s counsel, advocate Louis Barnard said that Sokhela played no part in the murder of Dorning. He did not take part in the premeditation or execution of it and he only came into the picture after the murder. The only crimes of which he could be convicted were the possession of the Dornings’ “hot” property and defeating the ends of justice.

However, investigating officer Inspector Willem de Vos said that Sokhela was guilty of murder and the aggravated robbery as he had known who the killers and robbers were, had hidden the stolen property in his house and withheld the information from the investigators. As a policeman he was duty-bound to reveal that information.

Barnard had suggested that he be given bail and made to live in Willowfountain so that the people who had been outraged by Dorning’s murder did not see him in Howick or in the Howick police station. Zwane did not accede to that.

He said that De Vos had expressed the fear that Sokhela, who had policeman friends, might interfere in the investigation and intimidate witnesses.

This fear was based on Sokhela’s past conduct. Sokhela had, De Vos said, committed crimes for which he was not prosecuted, possibly as a result of intimidation or influence. He was also predisposed to violence.

Zwane said that the court had to take into account that murder, theft and robbery were rife in the area.

The matter was postponed to January 21 for further investigation.

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