Cheers for acquitted Yengeni

2008-12-05 22:18

Cape Town - The sabotage of Tony Yengeni's drunken driving case, by the two police officials who arrested him, led to his acquittal, a Cape Town magistrate said on Friday.

"These two police officials wilfully sabotaged their own case," Goodwood Magistrate Ricardo Phillips said.

There was loud applause in the court when, in the lunch hour, Phillips pronounced the former ANC chief whip not guilty.

Yengeni was on his way home from a party when he was stopped by police officials, named in court only as Japhta and Voskuil, in the early hours of September 17 last year.

Although Yengeni was duly taken for a blood test soon after his arrest, the blood sample was not sent for forensic testing, but was instead given to the commander of the then Goodwood police station, senior superintendent Siphiwo Hewana.

Hewana allegedly placed the container in an unlocked drawer in his office, instead of locking it in a safe as had to be done.

He had since been fired and was facing charges of defeating the ends of justice, incitement to commit perjury and interfering with the Yengeni drunken driving investigation.

Phillips said the manner in which Japhta and Voskuil dealt with the investigation compromised the prosecution and led to Yengeni's acquittal.

They did this to orchestrate a result favourable to Yengeni, and this amounted to defeating the ends of justice, he said.

The manner in which the case was sabotaged created uncertainty about the truth of the matter, which meant that Yengeni had to be given the benefit of the doubt and found not guilty.

Phillips said the sabotage was "totally unacceptable", and had to be condemned at the highest level, as it impacted on the administration of justice and caused distrust in the community.

It also raised the questions why Japhta and Voskuil had not been charged with defeating the ends of justice, as had happened to Hewana, and why they had not also been fired.