News24 – SAPA
Cape Town – The report and recommendations on racism and sexism adopted by the Heads of court last week and released on Friday contains no silver bullet to eliminate racism and sexism in the judiciary, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Sunday. “While the Chief Justice will remain involved in the Western Cape to try and restore stability, the report makes clear that to combat racism and sexism within their ranks the judges are in for the long haul,” said justice spokesperson Sheila Camerer. The DA said the report was a workman-like document representing a substantial effort by the sub committee of judges who worked on it. “They had to wage through a mountain of submissions which have been called for by the Chief Justice.” “Perhaps significantly, Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe’s report on racism which started the ball rolling and which contained allegations of racism against several members of the Cape Bar and Bench gets short shrift.” The committee’s report came after Hlophe complained of racism in the judiciary in March. Last week a ceasefire was declared in the Hlophe race war when Langa said that none of the protagonists wanted any further action to be taken. The row was sparked by a claim that Hlophe had called attorney Joshua Greeff a “piece of white shit” after Greeff criticised the way one of Hlophe’s appointees, acting justice Tandazwa Ndita, presided over a murder case he was involved in. The DA added that here appeared to be little sympathy for Hlophe himself. “The report comments merely that it is necessary to point out that the allegations by Hlophe against individual judges and some members of the legal profession have in general been refuted by the persons concerned. “Save for this comment, the report does not deal with specific allegations.”
News24 – SAPA
Cape Town – Almost half of the judiciary in the Cape High Court have signed a statement saying they believe their judge president, John Hlophe, is the victim of a campaign by “unknown forces”. The move comes amid a furore over allegations that Hlophe made racist comments to a white lawyer, and that he belittled one of his white judges. Judge Siraj Desai, who drafted the statement in consultation with some of his colleagues, said he announced the initiative at the regular judges’ meeting on Friday morning, and by Friday afternoon 13 of the 28 full and acting judges had signed. The 13 included both black and white judges. Six had declined to add their signatures – among them Wilfred Thring, the judge whom Hlophe allegedly belittled – and the rest had yet to make their decision known.
The statement said the signatories noted with alarm and dismay the continuing attack on Hlophe’s integrity “by members of the advocacy and other similar sources”. “Without commenting on the merits of the dispute, we believe that the campaign is being promoted by unknown forces and is patently calculated to impede the transformation agenda of the judiciary; an agenda which we unqualifiedly support.” This was born out by the fact that the attacks came on the ve of a round of hearings of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). “The attacks constitute a serious threat to our judicial independence, undermine our integrity and place in jeopardy the proper administration of justice.” Desai told Sapa that some members of the Cape Bar Council appeared to be among those behind the campaign against Hlophe. “I don’t take the commitment of the Cape Bar Council to transformation seriously: in ten-and-a-half years the CBD has not nominated a single person of colour to the Bench,” he said, echoing comments he made earlier this week at a conference on transofrmation in the judiciary.
The council has referred the racism allegation against Hlophe to Chief Justice Pius Lange. The matter is expected to be discussed on Sunday at a heads of courts meeting in Cape Town called by Langa ahead of next week’s JSC hearings. Hlophe is alleged to have called attorney Josua Greeff a “piece of white shit” in the presence of advocate and former acting judge Dirk Uijs, acting judge Tandaswa Ndita and a prosecutor. The incident came in a meeting Hlophe called over the lawyers’ plan to appeal a murder conviction by Ndita. Hlophe was also alleged this week to have said he was giving an Afrikaans language rights case to Thring because he would “fuck it up”, allowing the matter to be dealth with by a full bench of the court of appeal. Hlophe has denied both claims.
by Karyn Maughan – High Court Reporter
SECONDS after Moegamat Yusuf Isaacs was convicted of murdering eight-year-old Sasha-Leigh Crook, he tearfully turned to the little girl’s mother and said: “I’m innocent. I didn’t kill her.” And Isaacs’s lawyer Josua Greeff told the Cape Argus yesterday that the 27-year-old former construction worker would seek leave to appeal against his Cape High Court conviction, which Greeff said was based on circumstantial evidence. Isaac’s counsel, Dirk Uijs, earlier declined to put any evidence in mitigation of sentence before the court and agreed with State Advocate Christenus van der Vijver that Sasha-Leigh’s murderer deserved a life sentence. Referring to evidence that Sasha-Leigh was probably killed four days after she disappeared outside her grandparents’ home in Ottery, Van der Vijver said it was impossible to imagine the terrible fear and emotional distress the child must have suffered before she was killed. Testifying in aggravation of sentence, Sasha-Leigh’s mother, Michelle, broke down as she described the anguish of her daughter’s eight-day disappearance and the discovery of her body in a field in Pelican Heights. Sasha Leigh was waiting to go to an early afternoon children’s birthday party, where her mother was waiting for her, on the day she disappeared. “When she wasn’t there at 3.30pm, I had this funny feeling. I knew something was wrong.” “Then my mommy arrived at the house (where the party was happening) at five o’clock and called me outside. She told me, ‘We can’t find Sasha’ and I collapsed on the drive-way’, she said, revealing that she had needed to be taken to Victoria Hospital later that night because she was suffering from anxiety-related lockjaw. In the days that followed her child’s disappearance, Crook said she did not eat and struggled to sleep. “I prayed to God that he would just let me have my baby back, even if she was dead. I just wanted my baby back,” she told the Cape Argus yesterday. Describing her daughter as a “loving, friendly, caring and joyful” little girl, Crook sobbed as she told Acting Judge Tandaswa Ndita: “Sasha-Leigh was an angel from God who was taken away from me.” Acting Judge Ndita earlier described the forensic evidence against Isaacs as the major pillar in the State’s case, which she said was largely circumstantial but supported by a small amount of direct evidence. Sasha-Leigh’s body was found with a piece of chipboard that police forensic experts matched with chipboard found at Isaac’s home, while the little girl’s blood was found on rags in a paint bucket in his garage. The judge said a confession made by Isaacs to his mother Fatiema, that he had strangled Sasha-Leigh, was consistent with the testimony of forensic experts. She rejected suggestions by Isaac’s legal team that the confession had been “conjured up” by police to bolster their shaky case against Isaacs. Police witnesses testified earlier that Isaacs had tearfully told his mother that he had “choked” Sasha-Leigh while under the influence of drugs. While pathologist Denise Louwrens testified that Sasha-Leigh’s cause of death was a stab wound to the neck, she also said that there were signs of strangulation on the child’s body. Acting Judge Ndita said it was “improbable” that the police would have invented a wrong cause of death for the little girl, or been able to include referrals to Isaac’s drug problem – which he had never previously revealed to them – in the confession. Isaacs will be sentenced in the Cape High Court tomorrow morning.
A SUSPECTED gang leader, arrested in connection with the murder of a girl he had allegedly raped, has been granted R3000 bail. Garron Stewart Potts, 31, alleged leader of the Dixie Boys and the 26′s in Eerste River who is charged with murder and attempted murder, appeared in a bail application hearing yesterday. The rape and murder victim, Es-Louis Sharonio Linnert, 16, of Eerste River, had just left the witness protection programme when she was gunned down last month. The State alleges that Linnert had been at a friend’s home with her aunt, Evelyn Linnert, when Ian Thompson, known as “Eandtjie”, came to inquire about her. He had apparently wanted to know if Khevenity Mitchell, know as “Debill”, had found them. Linnert and her aunt knew both men allegedly belonged to the Dixies. They tried to run away, but the men caught up with them in Palmiet Way. Mitchell, who had a gun in his hand, went to grab Linnert, but when her aunt approached, allegedly shot her in the neck. After hearing two shots and seeing that Linnert had been hit, her aunt jumped up and ran. She is expected to testify in court when the trial begins. Now Mitchell and Thompson are also facing charges of murder and attempted murder. Linnert, who was the only witness set to testify in the rape case against Potts, was 14 at the time of the attack. Opposing bail, State advocate Reuben Matshoba, argued that Potts, who had four convictions and 10 cases pending, had orchestrated the murder. Matshoba also warned that Potts might interfere with witnesses in the case, as he had allegedly “silenced” Linnert. But Potts’s attorneys, Josua Greeff, said the State’s case against his client, who was not a flight risk, was not strong. The State relied on one witness who claimed to have been present when Potts made a deal with mitchell and Thomspon to murder Linnert. Potts was granted R3000 bail and warned to appear on June 8.
BRIN STINTON should have celebrated his 23rd birthday at home with his family – but instead he was in prison, the victim of bureaucracy. And it was only thanks to the intervention of the Cape Argus that he avoided a second weekend in a cell. Stinton, who was arrested in the early hours of Saturday, May 7, in connection with an allegation of robbery, should have been released on bail because he has a job, a fixed address and no previous convictions. But the investigator in the case was on leave when Stinton first appeared in court last Monday, and so could not confirm that Stinton had a fixed address. The case was postponed until today, with Stinton facing another week in Pollsmoor prison. But his upset parents contacted the Cape Argus and the resulting article prompted the authorities to send him back to the Cape Town Magistrate’s court on Friday, where he was granted bail of R500.00. A relieved Stinton said: “It’s a war zone in there (Pollsmoor)”. He declined to say more. But Stinton’s good fortune did not extend to the two friends arrested with him, Lloyd Mitchell, 20, and a third man identified only as David. Mitchell and David are expected to apply for bail today. Lawyer Josua Greeff, for Stinton and Mitchell, said he did not know why Mitchell had not been brought to court on Friday. Mitchell’s angry mother said on Friday her son had been robbed in prison of his expensive Nike sneakers and a jersey.
News24 – SAPA
Cape Town – A reveller who was refused bail in January after his arrest for the alleged kidnapping, robbery and murder of a retired traffic officer was finally released on bail on Wesnesday – on “new facts”. Justin Shane Norton, 21, was granted bail of R2000 after launching a renewed bail application in the Cape Town regional court before magistrate Piet Nel. In the first week of January, he and four alleged accomplices were arrested for the murder of retired traffic officer Brian George Bland, whose body had been dumped at the entrance to the Portuguese Club in Milnerton. It is allged the five had been on a drinking spree at the time they kidnapped Bland at a supermarket in Milnerton. They go on trial in the Cape High Court on October 10 next year. After the first bail hearing, co-accused Bryan Snyman, 19, took his plight to the Cape High Court, who overruled the bail court’s ruling that there were no exceptional and compelling circumstances to justify his release on bail.
Nel agreed with defence attorney Keith Gess that Norton’s position should be “no more, no less favourable” than Snyman’s. Nel agreed also that the new facts – the appalling conditions in Pollsmoor Prison, and the fact that Norton had become a father – were exceptional circumstances. He said it was highly undesirable that Norton, as a father, should be detained until the start of the trial, taking into account he already had spent 10 months in custody. Nel said the information now placed before the court indicated an insubstantial case against Norton, and it was likely he would be acquitted. Those still in custody are Arthur Lancaster, 22, his brother Wesley, 20, and Snyman’s brother, Morne, 29.
by Norman Joseph – Crime Reporter
A WHEELCHAIR-bound paraplegic of Guteng was allegedly the mastermind behind three hijackings involving cigarettes worth R2.2million. Police have alleged that Selwyn Winston de Vries, 36, of Ennerdale in Johannesburg organised the crimes committed in Rawsonville, Yzerfontein and Kinkelbos. Yesterday, De Vries appeared with his brother Vigel Lennith, 26, and nine other men in the Cape Town Regional Court. Several years ago De Vries was shot and wounded during an attempted armed robbery in Johannesburg, near his home, after which he was left a paraplegic. He owns several taxis in his hometown and areas around Johannesburg. His brother, Vigel Lennith, owns a panel-beating and spray-painting shop in ennerdale. Information from an accomplice in the hijacking cases led police to arrest the brothers at their homes in Ennerdale. All the men face allegations of hijacking three truckloads of cigarettes, as well as the the trucks. The cigarettes all belonged to the British American Tobacco Company. The first load was hijacked in June last year in Rawsonville near Worcester, the second in Yzerfontein near Darling in August, and the third in Kenkelbos, Eastern Cape, in October. It is alleged that the cigarettes were taken to a Pretoria house, which apparently belonged to a friend of one of the accused, from where they were sold. Yesterday, it took five hours for the court to postpone the case. Kenilworth attorney William Booth, appearing for the De Vries brothers, and city attorney Ben Mathewson, appearing for the rest of the men, objected to not receiving copies of the charge sheets and case dockets. Booth and Mathewson said their clients couldn’t be charged under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, as stated by state prosecutor Advocate Helene booysen. “They can’t be charged for all the crimes unless the national directorate of public prosecutions gives permission,” Booth said. Booth said he was in favour of having the charges amalgamated and tried in the Cape High Court. He told the court that Sylwyn Winston de Vries was a diabetic, and required two dozen injections of insulin per week. He also said de Vries’s brother Vigel had hurt his leg when he fell recently, and also needed medical attention. He asked that the brothers be kept at the Goodwood Prison where there were medical facilities, instead of at Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai. Booysen told regional court magistrte Pam Naidoo that the investigating officer in the cases, Detective Inspector van Aarde Heydenrych of the Western Cape Serious Violent Crims Unit, had died in a motor vehicle accident in Kuils River last week. Naidoo postponed the case to July 20 to allow police to appoint a new investigating officer to peruse the seven case dockets, and said the court could arrange a bail application hearing. Booth said he had unsuccessfully applied for bail in Malmesbury Magistrate’s Court on behalf of the De Vries brothers. He had appealed against the court ruling, and would apply again. The men have been charged under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and could each face 30 years behind bars on each of the cases, or face fines totalling R100million.
News24 – SAPA
Cape Town – Soapie actor Deon Coetzee on Wednesday appeared in the Bellville magistrate’s court as a sequel to his arrest in January on charges of drunken driving, reckless driving and failing to stop after a collision. He appeared before magistrate Clive Linden who postponed the case to January 28 next year for trial, at the request of prosecutor Chris de Jong. It is alleged Coetzee collided with a car near his home on January 30, in the Bellville suburb of Oakdale, and then sped away. It is alleged a witness gave chase and forced Coetzee to a halt near his home. De Jong told the court the case had been referred to the local directorate for public prosecutions who had given instructions that the prosecution proceed. At the request of defence attorney Keith Gess, the magistrate ordered that the hearing commence on January 28, and said any request on January 28 for a further postponement for investigation purposes would be refused. Until recently, Coetzee acted in the TV soapies 7de Laan and Egoli. Gess said Coetzee had recently been engaged for a TV programme in Johannesburg, where his presence would be required daily until next year. It would be inconvenient for Coetzee to have to communte to Cape Town for further court appearances, Gess said. Gess told the court the hearing had been scheduled for August, and that Coetzee was becoming increasingly concerned about the delays.
CAPE TOWN – Hundreds of prisoners spent the night in custody illegally after nationwide demonstrations by prison workers disrupted court proceedings. Members of the Police Civil Rights Union (Popcru) downed tools between 7am and 10am yesterday to highlight a range of grievances. Prisoners who were due to attend court proceedings could not be transported to their hearings. Proceedings at regional and Magistrates’ Courts inCape Town were severely disrupted while the Cape High Court had to porpone 11 criminal cases, hearing only one in which the accused was out on bail and able to attend court. prioners who did not appear in court yesterday because of Popcru action could not legally be issued with a warrant to extend their detention in prison. They could not be legally kept in prison without a warrant, Josua Greeff from Mathewson Gess told THISDAY. Only the court can authorise the continued detention of a prisoner, and that authority expires on the day that an acused is due to appear in court, Greeff said. The magistrate or judge then has to sign a warrant to extend the prisoner’s detention. According to section 159 of the Criminal Procedure Act should a prisoner be absent from the court proceedings, such a warrant can only be issued if he or she was ill. The warrant would also have to be accmopanied by a medical report. Greeff said he had dealt with a case in Wynberg Magistrate’s Court yesterday in which the magistrate refused to sign a warrant for the detention because of this provision, and it was noted on the record that the accused was kept in prison unlawfully. He said such a prisoner would be entitled to institute civil action against the minister of correctional services, Ben Skosana. If a warrant for detention was issued without a medical report, a prisoner could apply to the High Court for an order that will enable him or her to be released from custody Greeff said, adding that many prisoners didn’t have the means to do this. Whiel essentially services were maintained at prisons, Judge President at the Cape High Court, John Hlope, said the demonstration had a “devastating effect” on the courts. “The judges could not do anything at all,” he said. He advised judges and magistrates to postpone their cases. Popcru Western Cape secretary Mncedisi Mbolekwa said the union had aimed to disrupt court proceedings because it forced authorities to listen to their grievances. In a memorandum, the union highlighted a range of issues including allowances not being allocated, the department of correctional services not paying contributions to the medical aid scheme, correctional officers being remunerated as students despite finishing a probation period, and the financial management in the department as a whole. “We got the result we were looking for. Management can answer for the prisoners who failed to attend court,” Mbolekwa said. Popcru could yesterday not provide national figures of members who participated in the protest action, but Mbolekwa said 800 members downed tools at Pollsmoor prison alone. Skosana has meanwhile agreed to meet a Popcru delegation today to discuss the union’s grievances.
Verslaggewer – Llewellyn Prince
KAAPSTAD – Die twee Duizers wat na bewering verlede jaar die seun van ‘n Milnertonse egpaar ontvoer het, sal in die hooggeregshof hier verhoor word. Die besluit is gister aan mnre. Michael Brandl (50) en Marcus Multhaler (36) oorgedra. Hulle het vlugtig in die landdroshof op ‘n ontvoeringsaanklag verskyn. Die aanklag spruit uit ‘n voorval waarin die twee na bewering op 4 Augustus verlede jaar die seun (15) van die Nederlanders mnr. Richard and mev. Myriam Weggelaar ontvoer het. Die seun is in ‘n pakhuis in Parow gevind. Brandl het na die hofverskyning ook op ‘n bedrogaanklag tereggestaan. Dit spruit uit sy beweerde geriefshuwelik met me. Luelle Naidoo van Durban. Me Fiona Cloete, senior staatsaanklaer, het aan landdros Joe Magele gesê sy het gister telefonies opdrag van die Wes-Kaapse direkteur van Openbare Vervolging (DOV) ontvang dat die twee vir die ontvoeringsaak in die hooggeregshof vervolg moet word. Volgens haar het die DOV besluit Brandl moet in die streekhof op die bedrogaanklag verskyn. Volgens haar wag die staat op die klagstaat en hofdatums in albei sake. Mnr. Keigh Gess, die twee se prokureur, het aan Magele gesê sy kliënte is ontevrede omdat die DOV slegs telefonies opdrag aan Cloete kon gee en dit nie op skrif gestel het nie. Volgens hom is die ondersoek na die ontvoeringsaak reeds in November afgehandel. Dit is onaanvaarbaar dat die DV nie gister ‘n geskrewe klagstaat of ‘n hofdatum kon indien nie. “My kliënte meen hul reg op ‘n spoedige verhoor word gesken. Indien die dokumente en die hofdatum nie tydens hul volgende verskyning ingedien word nie, sal ek aansoek doen dat die saak van die rol geskrap of dat my kliënte op borgtog vrygelaat word, ” het Gess gesê. Die beskuldigdes het reeds twee keer om borgtog aansoek gedoen, maar was onsuksesvol. Magele het albei sake tot 24 Februarie uitgestel. Brandl en Multhaler word i die Pollsmoor-gevangenis aangehou.