Westbury 2016 gang murder: Missing docket sparked arrests of alleged gang members, cop, court hears

2019-06-26 20:09
City detectives swamped by dockets.

City detectives swamped by dockets. (File)

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A recently discovered police docket, which had gone missing, is what ignited the arrests of alleged Westbury gang leader Leroy "Finch" Brown, his co-accused, Christopher "Pitso" Charles as well as a Sophiatown-based warrant officer, the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday. 

The court, sitting before Magistrate Susan Botha, was hearing a formal bail application for Warrant Officer Wynand Steyn who was arrested last week in connection with the April 21, 2016, murder of Reagan Jacobs outside Agatha flats in Newclare. 

It is alleged that on that particular day, Steyn, Brown, Charles and a police reservist stationed at Sophiatown police station were travelling in a marked police vehicle when Brown and Charles jumped out, opened fire and killed Jacobs.

READ: Warrant of arrest issued for cop allegedly linked to two Westbury gangs

Investigating officer Warrant Officer Vincent Saunders, who recently took over gang-related cases in Westbury following violent protests in 2018, said the missing docket was found with statements from 2016 in which the trio was mentioned. 

"I also discovered that the docket might have been hidden away." 

He said the docket was mouldy, and some of the statements inside it were damp. 

When prosecutor Andries Ntjana asked him whether he thought it was a deliberate act, Saunders said: "Yes." 

Will not interfere with evidence and witnesses

While the docket, after being commissioned in 2016, was supposed to have been sent for inspection on a monthly basis, according to regulations in Gauteng, that was not the case with said docket.

Saunders said it seemed as though there were, somehow, officers who were involved in the sudden disappearance of the docket. 

He added that he believed the State had a strong case against Steyn, and that granting him bail would not hinder it. 

Steyn, through an affidavit, read to the court by his lawyer, Jean Pierre Venter, pleaded that he be granted bail as he would not in any way interfere with witnesses and had no access to evidence held by the police. 

He submitted that he was not a danger to society and would adhere to bail conditions as he was already under strict bail conditions in another murder case before the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. 

Saunders said there was no way Steyn could steal evidence as it had been scanned to a desktop. 

High Court reviews administration confusion

"He will have to take the whole police server down to get rid of it [the docket]. If the docket goes missing, I can print it out. I think we are in agreement that he won't interfere," he added. 

Botha postponed Steyn's bail application to June 1. 

ALSO READ:Westbury gang case: Arrested cop says he was not on duty on day of shooting

Meanwhile, in a different courtroom, presided over by Magistrate Basimane Molwana, where Brown and Charles' bail application was ongoing, however, things appeared to have taken an unexpected turn.

Steyn had joined the two men in the dock for the first time last week, shortly after his arrest. However, due to Brown and Charles' bail applications already being underway, the court decided that the officer's own bail application would be heard separately, in a different courtroom.

On Wednesday, Molwana said he had not formally transferred Steyn to a different court yet, and that his appearance in Botha's courtroom had led to both magistrates sharing one docket, which was not supposed to be the case. 

As a result, he opted to delay proceedings for Brown and Charles to July 4 to get directions from the High Court. 

Steyn is expected back in court on Monday to continue with his bail application. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  courts

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