Babita Deokaran: Where's the murder weapon, getaway car and cash? Defence tears into State’s evidence

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Phakamani Vincent Hadebe, Sitha Radebe, Phinda Ndlovu, Sanele Mbhele and Siphiwe Thabane Mazibuko.
Phakamani Vincent Hadebe, Sitha Radebe, Phinda Ndlovu, Sanele Mbhele and Siphiwe Thabane Mazibuko.
Isabel Venter
  • The six men charged with the murder of Babita Deokaran were back in court on Tuesday.
  • During closing arguments, the defence again called into question the strength of the State's case.
  • The matter will be back in court on 9 December. 

In the case against the six men charged with the murder of Babita Deokaran, the defence accused investigators of not following the evidence to solve the murder and instead focusing on confessions that have been disputed. 

Phakamani Hadebe, Zitha Radebe, Hlangano Ndlovu, Sanele Mbhele, Siphiwe Mazibuko and Siphakanyiswa Dladla were back in the dock on Tuesday for closing arguments in their bail application. 

"[Investigating officer] Captain Chauke and his team were more interested in taking confessions than following objective evidence that will assist them in solving this case. This is a matter of priority - as the IO pointed out, the matter has drawn the attention of the president," said advocate Peter Wilkins.

READ | Cops threatened to kill me if I didn't confess, says Babita Deokaran murder accused

"The president hailed the deceased as a hero and, under these circumstances, one would expect members of an elite unit, such as the Hawks, to obtain all the necessary evidence."

During closing arguments for bail, Wilkins questioned the strength of the State's case and highlighted that the BMW allegedly used as the getaway car had not been found.

They were still waiting for ballistics on a firearm found during the arrest, he said, and he also questioned why the money they were allegedly paid for the "hit" had not been traced.

The group is alleged to have received R400 000 for the murder. 

Editorial | Why did Babita Deokaran have to die?

"The State cannot emphatically say who was driving what car on the day in question. They cannot say if the BMW was used in the shooting," he said.

Babita Deokaran
Babita Deokaran.

"The firearm found ... we were told the State would investigate the firearm and submit it for ballistics and DNA. At this stage, it is 30 November - three months later, we have still not been notified that any one of the accused can be linked to the firearm."

In response, State advocate Steven Rubin said the defence did not understand the purpose of a bail court and that these issues would be dealt with at trial. 

Wilkins maintained that his clients were tortured and coerced into making confessions after they were arrested. 

Evidence

"The issue of admissibility and/or credibility of the statements will be decided by the trial court having considered the credibility and reliability of the witnesses in the matter as well as the probabilities and improbabilities in the evidence. Such evidence is not before this honourable court and a determination of admissibility is not currently possible, nor is it required," Rubin responded. 

READ | 'An assassination': Babita Deokaran was fighting for an 'ethical public service'

Wilkins reopened Hadebe's case and read out an affidavit from the instructing attorney, which deals with the media statement released by former health minister Zweli Mkhize after he was mentioned during the bail application as the alleged paymaster. 

Wilkins said that Mkhize's statement corroborated Hadebe's denial of knowing him and implicating him in his alleged confession. 

The matter was postponed to verify Ndlovu's citizenship.

According to Rubin, when Ndlovu was arrested, he told police that he was Zimbabwean. However, Wilkins told the court that he was South African.

The magistrate asked for this to be verified with the home affairs department. 

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