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Cape Town - An extortion case involving two policemen was postponed to next year by the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town on Wednesday.
This was done because the defence attorney's presence was required in the Western Cape High Court.
The matter involves Constable Mjatya Bukani and reservist Nontando Mhlabeni, both based in Khayelitsha.
They allegedly demanded money from a taxi driver caught with perlemoen (abalone) for his release from custody, and the return of the confiscated perlemoen and the taxi.
Both officials have pleaded not guilty to a charge of extortion (blackmail), before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg. They have also pleaded not guilty to two alternative counts of corruption.
In June, taxi driver Wanana Gwadiso told the court that he and his two passengers were arrested in December 2010, and were locked up together in a cell at the Khayelitsha police station, after the two policemen found a bag of perlemoen in his taxi.
He testified that, on the way to the police station, Bukani offered to release him and his passengers, and return the confiscated perlemoen and the taxi, in exchange for money.
Gwadiso said he first offered R300, which Bukani said was too little, and then increased the amount to R500, which Bukani accepted.
However, at the police station, Bukani changed his mind about the amount and demanded R1000.
The R1000 was paid, and he and his passengers were released without any charges being pressed, Gwadiso told the court.
Bukani claimed via defence counsel Andre Pienaar that Gwadiso was arrested, but later released, for illegally encroaching on a route belonging to the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta).
According to Bukani, Gwadiso was released from custody at the request of Codeta, which had merely wanted Gwadiso warned to stay off the Codeta route, and not arrested and charged.
According to Bukani, the arrest had nothing to do with the possession of perlemoen.
Defence attorney Faizal Viljoen represents Mlabeni.
The trial resumes on January 27.