Durban - The death of a taxi boss at the hands of the now disbanded Cato Manor organised crime unit is to be laid at the door of the minister of police who is being held liable, the Pietermaritzburg High Court has ruled.
The amount the family of Bongani Mkhize will be paid has yet to be decided on a date to be arranged.
The ruling was preceded by argument from senior advocate Rod Cullum, representing the police, who tried hard to convince Judge Gregory Kruger to postpone the case.
The advocate said the policemen involved in the shooting of Mkhize had been arrested and were facing criminal charges for his murder, and others, in Durban.
They were reserving their right to remain silent and would not testify in the civil trial in which Mkhize’s widow, Fakazile, and her four children, Zamambo, 26; Nkosiphile, 23; Siphathelwa, 20; and Phakeme, 17, are claiming R2.4 million in damages.
Mkhize was shot in Umgeni Road, Durban, four years ago. Police alleged he had opened fire on them first. They said he was being sought in connection with the murder in 2009 of a traditional leader in uMlazi.
Cullum said the policemen’s constitutional rights would be infringed, and they would incriminate themselves, if they testified in this case.
The argument did not sit well with
Judge Kruger, who said one had to accept that whoever went into the witness box had to take the oath and tell the truth. From the court papers, the policemen’s defence was that they acted lawfully and shot Mkhize after he opened fire on them.
“If they (the policemen) enter the box and tell the truth, how can they incriminate themselves?”
Cullum responded that if they compromised their rights in the civil case, the evidence would be used in the criminal case.
The judge disagreed, saying: “You have a right to object to evidence being used in the criminal trial.”
Cas Pretorius, SC, argued for the family that the State should have brought the application for a postponement sooner and not last week.
Kruger ordered the trial to begin straight away and told the State to call its witnesses.
Cullum said he had no witnesses to call. The judge asked if he was closing his case and he said yes. Judge Kruger then ruled in the family’s favour, holding the police responsible for the shooting.