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Describing Sydenham police officers as a law unto themselves, a Durban High Court judge reluctantly acquitted a man of murder and robbery yesterday.
Judge Sharmaine Balton acquitted Sethu Mbewana of the crimes after delivering a scathing judgment about the investigation of the case.
She recommended that the police commissioner and other authorities should educate officers about the Criminal Procedure Act.
“Perhaps they need to embark on a simple campaign of teaching their commissioned officers about the… manner in which a confession or statement should be taken,” the judge said. “It is like sending a university student back to Grade 1 to learn to spell.”
Mbewana was charged with the murder of Sherwood domestic worker Zandile Ngeleka. Ngeleka was stabbed 15 times and her cellphone was stolen in October last year. The State alleged that Mbewana, a gardener, had killed her because of an argument.
Judge Balton said that the police had bungled the case by failing to follow simple procedures when Mbewana’s confession was taken.
Acquitting Mbewana, the judge said it was clear from the inadmissible confession that he had killed the deceased. “This judgment is intended to convey this court’s frustration with the attitude and incompetence of the police involved,” she said.