Johannesburg - Judge Colin Lamont on Thursday refused to have police officers removed from his court following a request by Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir's lawyer, saying it would compromise security.
“Are you saying we must reduce the security in the court? There is no way security in this court is being reduced,” Lamont said in the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge.
“You remember there was an incident with me. If you say security must be reduced, it won't happen easily,” he said.
Annelene van den Heever, for Krejcir and his co-accused Desai Luphondo, had handed in a list of police tactical response team officers present during Luphondo's arrest.
She told the court those officers were witnesses and should not be in court when the statement taken from Luphondo during his arrest came under the spotlight.
Krejcir, Luphondo, Warrant Officers Samuel “Saddam” Maropeng and George Nthoroane, Jan Lefu Mofokeng, and Siboniso Miya face charges of kidnapping, attempted murder, and dealing in drugs. All have denied guilt.
Proceedings came to a halt just after midday when Luphondo pointed out the officers inside the court and some outside.
Van den Heever had claimed earlier on Thursday that Luphondo's original statement, taken during his arrest, was not made freely.
The State had asked for permission to bring an application for the admission of the bail records of some of the accused.
“We are objecting that it was not freely and voluntarily made. It was made under undue influence,” Van den Heever said.
Earlier this week, Lamont raised concerns about security after the discovery of a bread knife in court.
On Wednesday, police spokesman Lt-Gen Solomon Makgale said security for Lamont had been increased when, while he was driving home, he heard a bang and realised his car window had cracked.
On Thursday another of Krejcir's lawyers, Piet du Plessis, told reporters they had met Lamont to discuss his security. Lamont had told them he did not believe the incident was related to the case.
“We have spoken to the judge and he is not alleging it was in any manner related to this case,” Du Plessis said.