R5k bail granted to JMPD officers arrested for alleged murder of journalist

2018-01-26 18:56
The accused in Godknows Nare's murder. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

The accused in Godknows Nare's murder. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Johannesburg – The case against three Johannesburg Metro Police Department constables who were arrested in connection with the murder of journalist and fixer Godknows Nare will be transferred to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

The trio appeared in court on charges of murder, assault, and defeating the ends of justice following their arrest by the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) on Thursday.

Magistrate John Baloyi granted the trio bail of R5 000 at the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on Friday.

Lincoln Moloi, 35, Nhlanhla Joseph Vilakazi, 29 and Thozamile Mhlanga, 37, were dressed casually in hoodies, keeping their heads down when journalists tried to take pictures of them. 

READ: 3 Joburg metro cops arrested for murder of journalist Godknows Nare

The men, all from Soweto and married with children, told the court through affidavits read out by their lawyer Hlakudi Mpe, that they could only afford R2 000 bail, except for Mhlanga who said he could only afford R1 000. None of them have previous convictions. 

State Prosecutor, Jacob Serepo however, reminded the court that the men were charged with committing a Schedule 5 offence and requested that the bail amount be higher. 

Forty-year-old Nare was killed during a shootout near his home in Florida, west of Johannesburg on April 17, 2017.

Shot in the back

The officers' arrest followed an investigation by the IPID which uncovered that, contrary to the version of the officers that they had been shot at, they had "in fact" killed Nare and staged the crime scene to cover their tracks, IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini said in a statement shortly after the arrest.

Serepo told the court that at the time, Nare was sitting alone in the driver's seat of a car, and was shot in the back.

The officers, who were all on duty on the day, alleged that they were in pursuit of a stolen car that had been hijacked, matching the description of the car that Nare was in.

Following the announcement of the arrests, the South African National Editors' Forum issued a statement saying whether Nare's death was related to his profession or not, journalism was not a crime, and journalists should be allowed to cover stories without any fear of intimidation and threats. 

READ: 'Journalism is not a crime' - Sanef on arrest of JMPD officers for journo's death

Nare worked at various media outlets including eNCA, Special Assignment and BBC. 

His family had a clash with colleagues of the accused as court adjourned when one of Nare's family members shouted "murderers" as the trio headed back down the cells. 

Baloyi had to warn a senior member of the authorities to stop intimidating witnesses on behalf of the accused, at Serepo's request.

He granted bail on condition that the officers appear at a local police station twice a week, hand in their passports, do not contact state witnesses, and do not leave Gauteng without the permission of the principal investigating officer.

"There was no evidence presented here indicating that the three applicants are at flight risk, or that they will endanger the safety of the public or evade trial or intimidate and influence witnesses," he said. 

The matter would be heard on February 9 for a pre-trial hearing.

Read more on:    ipid  |  jmpd  |  crime  |  courts  |  media

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