Bail decision delayed

2016-02-12 10:45
Sifiso Hlengwa, accused of shooting traffic Superintendent Pumla Dlamini in his office last month, at the magistrate’s court.

Sifiso Hlengwa, accused of shooting traffic Superintendent Pumla Dlamini in his office last month, at the magistrate’s court. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A magistrate delayed making a decision on whether or not to release municipal security officer Sifiso Hlengwa on bail after being told on Thursday that he has been fired by Msunduzi Municipality.

Hlengwa (39) is charged with shooting dead Superintendent Pumla Dlamini following a heated argument in a closed office at Pietermaritzburg’s traffic department last month.

Dlamini, the acting manager of public safety, was shot five times, according to evidence at Hlengwa’s bail hearing.

Magistrate Y. Khuzwayo had intended giving judgment on Thursday after considering submissions made last week on behalf of the state and Hlengwa.

However, when the case was called the prosecutor, Samkelisiwe Hlongwane, said she wanted to enlighten the court about Hlengwa’s “current state of employment”, as this was something the magistrate had asked about on the previous occasion.

Advocate Brad Osborne, representing Hlengwa, objected strongly to a “reopening” of the case and submitted it was “unfair and not in the interests of justice” for new information to be introduced at this stage.

However, Khuzwayo asked Osborne outright if he could tell the court whether Hlengwa is still employed.

Osborne then replied; “According to my instructions, a letter of termination has been served on the accused [Hlengwa] by the municipality.”

Osborne said he had not yet had an opportunity to consider whether or not the dismissal could be challenged or if Hlengwa could enforce his rights in terms of arbitration.

Khuzwayo said in the light of this development she needed more time to consider whether or not to grant Hlengwa bail and adjourned the matter until Monday.

The state is opposing Hlengwa’s release on bail on grounds that state witnesses are still “traumatised” by the shooting incident at their place of work, that they are afraid of Hlengwa, and that Hlengwa’s life will also be in danger if he is released.

The state is also concerned because Hlengwa fled the scene of the shooting immediately afterwards, getting into a car and driving away.

After his getaway car crashed, he abandoned the vehicle, got into a taxi and then vanished for two weeks while police were looking for him. He eventually handed himself over.

In his affidavit, Hlengwa said he had fled out of “panic and shock” and remained in hiding after he developed an “unfounded fear” for his own life.

However, Osborne told the court that Hlengwa was now satisfied that in spite of the “credible” fears for his safety that do exist, he can protect himself if he is granted bail.

Hlengwa said he intends to plead not guilty to murdering Dlamini but did not go into the details of his defence at the bail hearing.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda declined to either confirm or comment on Hlengwa’s alleged summary dismissal.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  bail

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