Durban - The owner of a motor repair shop made 127 phone calls and numerous visits to the homes and workplace of a policeman who had failed to settle his R25 000 repair bill, the Durban Regional Court heard.
eManzimtoti businessman Barry Male, 39, owner of Barry’s Auto Clinic in Southgate Business Park, testified on Thursday in the trial of Sibusiso Boya, 44, Mandilakhe Sumayela, 27, Sizanani Cibane, 37, and Nomvelo Zuma.
The four police officers had allegedly forcibly removed Boya’s vehicle from the repair shop without paying the outstanding amount.
The three men and one woman – four of the eight who arrived at Male’s workshop in five police cars, with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing – are each facing one count of robbery for the May 20 incident.
The other four officers were not charged.
The four on trial pleaded not guilty, despite Boya’s admission that he had removed the vehicle, giving the exact date, time and place of the incident, prosecutor Yuben Archary said. These admissions will be explored later in the trial.
Male told the court: “He (Boya) refused to take my calls. I would go to his two residences and he would not open the door. I made a total of 127 calls to his two phone numbers to try and collect the money owed to me.”
The initial quote for the repair of the CV joints and other work on the policeman’s VW Caravelle was a point of contention.
When the vehicle was looked at, Male said additional repairs on several “major mechanical problems” pushed the quote up to R25 000.
He apparently told Boya of this development in December 2012, but had still not received the outstanding amount.
In January, Male informed Boya that he would charge him storage fees of R300 a day.
“He told me that he could afford 120 days of storage.”
The storage from January to May 20, when the vehicle was removed, would have totalled R42 000. Male said the daily rate included 24-hour security.
The court heard that in April last year, Boya paid R5 000 towards his account.
“I informed him that I had consulted with a lawyer to help me go the legal route in recovering the funds. I informed him that we would have to sell the vehicle to cover the costs and maybe set up a payment scheme for the storage fees,” Male said.
He said on the day of the “raid”, he had been out of the workshop and had received a call from the manager of the shop, Collin Ballard.
Closed circuit television footage showed the policemen terrorising staff.
Three of the police vans are believed to be from the eManzimtoti police station and two vehicles – a BMW and a Mercedes – were traced to the uMlazi Tactical Response Team.
“He (Boya) said he would not be paying the storage fees and wanted his vehicle, with or without the keys,” Male said.
“Over the phone I told him that it was now a civil matter and not a criminal one so the cops needed to leave the premises. He said: ‘I am the SAP. I don’t care about your f****** lawyer.’”
Boya’s lawyer Sam Gargaran, said:
“My client says he paid you R6 000 in December (2012) and had an outstanding balance of R9 600. That brings the total value of the initial invoice to R15 600. Is that correct?”
Male could not confirm the the figures but said the quote changed when more problems were found with the vehicle.
He insisted the meetings had taken place in December 2012, while Gargaran said that according to Boya, the meeting had taken place in January last year.
“My client says that the vehicle, once it was taken, had to be repaired again, indicating that you had not completed repairs. He had to pay another mechanic an extra R 5 000 for these repairs,” he said.
Male said the vehicle had been standing unused for five months and the battery had probably run flat.
Gargaran said Boya had paid Male R12 000 between April and May last year, but Male could not confirm this.
Outside the court Male said he was now running his business from home.
“Nobody trusts me with their business,” he said.
“They thought I was running a chop shop.”