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Nine Soweto police officers accused of corruption, kidnapping, robbery and assault have been acquitted
For two years, Rosta Muthapuli, Jane Mavuwa, Albert Selepe, Patience Manganyi, Comrade Mntambo, Elijah Ndlela, Gift Mashele, Richard Maswanganyi and Mpumelelo Memela had a dark cloud hanging over their careers.
Their charges related to an incident on November 20, 2009 when they arrested Nigerian Okachukwu Ngenuka, who they suspected was a druglord operating in Soweto. The arrest followed months of investigations and a tip-off from a resident. But instead the tables turned and they were arrested the next month.
The State alleged that after arresting Ngenuka on suspicion of drug dealing, the officers robbed him of his two cellphones and his VW Golf, which they sold for R25 000. All the officers had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
On Monday, magistrate Reginald Dama found that the State had failed to make a case against the officers.
“The time has come, ladies and gentlemen,” Dama said as he began handing down his judgment to the six men and three women.
“All your attorneys are applying for the discharge of your charges, but the question that needs to be answered is: Is there sufficient evidence to convict you?
“I have seriously applied my mind regarding the applications and find, indeed, I’m in agreement with your attorneys.
“In respect of all charges put to you, you have been discharged.”
For Selepe the entire case was a miscarriage of justice as they were working to rid the township of a suspected druglord.
“This person (Ngenuka) is well connected. He knew we had been looking for him. He met up with leaders of the trio task team and they came up with these allegations that we kidnapped, assaulted and robbed him. Our families suffered because of this.
“We were in prison for two months before being released on R5 000 bail each,” Selepe said outside court.
A father of five boys and a girl, he said he was arrested a month after his wife died. His daughter was only nine months old.
“There was never a case against any of us. For years I sat without a job or money,” he said. - The Star