Cop allegedly involved in Westbury gang murder granted R5 000 bail

2019-07-01 17:51
Protests in Westbury. (Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24)

Protests in Westbury. (Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24)

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A Sophiatown police officer, who is a co-accused in a murder trial alongside alleged Westbury gang leader Leroy "Finch" Brown, has been granted R5 000 bail. 

On Monday, Warrant Officer Wynand Steyn appeared before Magistrate Susan Botha in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court for a formal bail application. 

Steyn, Brown and another co-accused, Christopher "Pitso" Charles, are facing charges of murder and attempted murder. 

They were charged following allegations that on April 21, 2016, Steyn was driving a police vehicle from which Brown and Charles jumped out of, opened fire and killed Reagan Jacobs at Agatha flats in Newclare. 

Steyn's attorney, Jean-Pirre Venter, argued that the State's case against him was weak, adding that statements from two eyewitnesses, which the State are relying on, had discrepancies that still needed to be tested.

Venter said it was in the interest of justice to release Steyn because he would not interfere with the case, adding that he was out on bail, under strict conditions, for another case in the High Court involving the Fast Guns gang.   

The State opposed the police officer's bail, arguing he was not an "eligible" candidate, and that it would not be in the interest of justice for him to be released because he was a police officer who was supposed to be on the right side of the law. 

WATCH: Chaos as rival Westbury gangs face off in Joburg court

"It will not be in the interest of justice to permit an officer who should be against gang-related violence and, according to eyewitnesses, is seen to be in association with gang members," prosecutor Andries Ntjana submitted. 

During the bail application, investigating officer Vincent Saunders, who took the witness stand, told the court that the docket implicating Steyn and his co-accused was discovered in May after it had been missing since 2016. 

Saunders told the court that when the docket was found, it was damp and not legible, adding that it seemed as though it had been "hidden" in a closed area probably by police officers who had access to dockets. 

However, Venter questioned Saunders on whether he thought it was police "incompetence" instead for not following up on the docket's disappearance in 2016. 

State case weak

Saunders replied that he did not believe it had anything to do with incompetence, but "criminality". 

Ntjana, while opposing bail, argued that the docket's disappearance was an act and an attempt to "frustrate" the murder case because it also included police officers. 

"The argument the State is raising at present is that there was or there could have been interference [with the docket], but we cannot say it's person X or Y," he said. 

Venter also questioned Saunders on the facts surrounding the vehicle that is said to have been allegedly used on the day of the murder. 

In his affidavit, Steyn submitted that he was not working that day and the marked BMW, which witnesses said he was driving, was parked in Alberton. 

Venter put it to the court that the witness statements were, therefore, contradictory, arguing that the State's case was weak. 

Saunders said documents tracking the vehicle confirmed that it was parked, but two eyewitnesses, who were on the scene with Jacobs, said they had seen Steyn with the alleged Varados gang members and that that was a strong enough allegation. 

Ntjana submitted that contradictions and the credibility of witnesses would be argued during the trial stage and should not be used to determine the bail outcome. He said the State's case was not weak. 

ALSO READ: Two killed, including 15-year-old, in suspected gang violence in Westbury

Ntjana added that the fact that the eyewitnesses had immediately mentioned that the driver of the police vehicle had been Steyn and naming him specifically instead of generalising and saying, "a cop", was an aspect to be looked at and should be tested during trial. 

"The State's case cannot be weak if the applicant is on the scene," he said.

Saunders also informed the court that, while he was not opposing Steyn's release, he was, however, concerned about his safety because he had received information that the Fast Guns would harm him. 

Botha, while handing down judgment, said whatever might transpired at the trial was not for the court to speculate and that the court, during a bail application, should consider the facts placed before it.

She added that the fact that Saunders was corroborating facts by Steyn that the vehicle was not in use on the day was also a factor to be considered. 

She said because of Steyn's circumstances, being involved in another case, he had no means to steal and destroy evidence. 

Steyn's bail conditions include that he does not communicate with witnesses. 

The case was postponed to July 4, when Steyn will be appearing with his co-accused, Brown and Charles, during their continuation of a formal bail application. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  gangsterism  |  crime
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