Court told of threats

2016-05-25 10:49
Derrick Williams at the magistrate’s court.

Derrick Williams at the magistrate’s court.

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Pietermaritzburg - Threats to the lives of policemen involved in a gun battle with an alleged criminal gang in Montrose were ­highlighted on Tuesday during a bail application by two men allegedly wounded in the shootout.

Opposing bail for Derrick Williams and Sibongiseni Mariken, the investigating officer, Robin Mays, said in an affidavit police have information from informers, as well as statements by people who came forward, indicating it is true that there is a plan to kill the policemen involved in the shooting and arrests on April 30 in Town Bush Road.

Referring to Facebook posts by an alleged relative of Derrick Williams who calls herself “Cherryomzulu Williams”, Mays said it has also become apparent that family of the accused “appear to have access to automatic weapons as well as a hand gun”. He said Cherryomzulu Williams has posted several pictures of hand guns but the photo that was “most worrying” was one of an R5 rifle and 9 mm pistol, which he attached to his affidavit.

When he testified later in support of his bail application, Derrick Williams said he does not know Cherryomzulu Williams, but said: “Maybe this is a cousin”.

Asked by his advocate, Martin Krog, if he knew that any family members had access to firearms or of plans to kill policemen or threaten witnesses in the case, Williams said he was unaware of this.

Williams and Mariken told Pietermaritzburg Magistrate M. Boikhutso they will plead not guilty to the charges against them but refused to discuss the merits of the case.

The charges include two counts of murder of their alleged accomplices, Ian Williams and Luwazi Xulu, who were shot dead by police, the attempted murders of five policemen, attempted theft of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

Mays said Williams and Mariken were arrested following a shootout with police near the Keg and Hedgehog at about 2.50 am while they and their accomplices allegedly tried to steal a car. When they were approached by police, who were observing them, they returned to their vehicle and tried to flee, firing shots at police who returned fire.

Mays said three unlicensed 9 mm pistols were found in their vehicle, including a stolen police firearm. Several spent cartridge cases were also found in the vehicle along with a police radio, tools and computer boxes allegedly used to bypass vehicle security systems.

He said due to the seriousness of the charges, he believes Williams and Mariken will abscond if released.

Williams admitted having three previous convictions for culpable homicide, reckless and negligent driving and operating a motor vehicle without a permit.

But advocate Krog argued in his favour that five pending cases involving housebreaking and theft against Williams are unproven.

“He is presumed innocent till proven guilty. These pending cases do not show a propensity to commit crime because anything can happen,” he said.

He said Williams had attended court in all his cases while on bail, even a serious case where he and Ian Williams were charged with 11 others and fingered as “ringleaders” of a car theft syndicate before the charges were withdrawn.

Senior state prosecutor Zubeida Vahed said those charges were withdrawn only because of “technical” reasons due to police failure to follow correct procedures when setting a trap.

She urged the court to deny Williams and Mariken bail, saying their release would undermine the confidence of the public in courts and police. “We cannot have shootouts in public places,” she said.

Krog said the allegations of threats to the lives of the policemen and witnesses in the case were nothing but “nebulous rumours” and dismissed newspaper articles describing the alleged drama at Ian Williams’ funeral, including burning of cars, and the Facebook posts by Cherryomzulu Williams. He said the articles were “inflammatory” and have nothing to do with his client who “was languishing in jail the whole time”.

Attorney Bongani Cele also urged the court to release Mariken on bail as he said he ought to be presumed innocent till proven guilty. He said Mariken still needs medication. A medical report shows he “still has bullets in his body” and needs an operation, he said.

He said the fact that Mariken is unemployed and dependent on his pensioner mother does not mean he does not qualify for bail.

Boikhutso said she will deliver her verdict on June 10.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  saps

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