Justice evades victim

Leeba Motaung after allegedly being dragged for 50 m by a police vehicle which drove over both his legs on 26 November 2016 at Caleb Motshabi, a settlement being developed in Bloemfontein. Photo: Supplied
Leeba Motaung after allegedly being dragged for 50 m by a police vehicle which drove over both his legs on 26 November 2016 at Caleb Motshabi, a settlement being developed in Bloemfontein. Photo: Supplied

A traumatised man from Bloemfontein who survived after allegedly being dragged for about 50 m with a state vehicle by two police sergeants in 2016, is still waiting for justice.

Mahlomola Tsholo and Medupe Mqhwathi are facing a charge of attempted murder after allegedly dragging Leeba Motaung along with a state van on 26 November 2016 in Caleb Motshabi, Bloemfontein.

The victim’s right leg was severely fractured during the event, in which the vehicle also drove over his legs.

The trial has been fraught with delays and postponements. It has been postponed about 35 times before, and once again on 4 November. The accused are expected back in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 5 December.

Mqhwathi and Tsholo have since appeared before the police’s internal disciplinary committee.

Col. Thandi Mbambo, provincial police spokes­person, said the case against the policemen was finalised on 18 September 2017, with both being issued with final written warnings.

Phaladi Shuping, provincial spokesperson for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said reasons for postponements and delays in finalising the trial range from outstanding particulars and legal fees to the un­availability of the state prosecutor handling the case and attorneys representing the accused.

Tsholo and Mqhwathi are stationed at the Kopanong Police Station in Bloem­fontein. They were on duty on the day of the alleged offence. They were reportedly called by Motaung to assist after a woman had assaulted him with a snooker ball on the head. Motaung was bleeding following the assault.

Express previously reported that Motaung had allegedly been explaining the circumstances of the assault while standing on the passenger side of the state vehicle. It is alleged that his hand was still inside the vehicle when the window was closed and the vehicle drove off.

Shuping said by 22 May 2017 the case was ready for trial and the defence lawyers representing the policemen were supplied with copies of the docket.

On 24 October 2017, there was however an issue with the legal fees of one of the accused and they requested a postponement until 29 November 2017.

It was the same legal fees issue of the second accused and representations that were sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

On 22 January 2018, the accused had not yet acquired representation and requested a remand until 22 February 2018, said Shuping.

He said on 22 February 2018, the accused’s attorney requested a trial remand until 28 March 2018 as they were still waiting for the outcome of their representation. According to the records, their representations were delivered at the DPP’s office on 22 March 2018.

Representations were dismissed and the case remanded to 12 July 2018 and 8 August 2018 for trial, said Shuping.

The drama continued, forcing more postponements.

Part of the drama included the attorney of one of the accused falling ill during August 2018.

On 8 August 2018, the state was ready to proceed with the trial, but a legal representative of one of the accused informed the court that his client had not come for a consultation and he requested a remand for consultation until 2 October 2018.

On 2 October, the legal representative of one of the accused was reported sick, and the case was remanded again until 31 October 2018.

The case proceeded on 31 October 2018. It was remanded to 21 and 26 February 2019 for further trial, but a legal representative was reported sick and the case was postponed.

The defence applied for a discharge in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The application for a discharge was dismissed on 14 March 2019. The case was remanded until 3 and 4 July 2019 for further trial.

The prosecutor dealing with the matter was unavailable and the case was postponed to 17 September 2019, said Shuping.

A new date has now been set for 5 December.

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