Prosecutor, cops accused of extortion

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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg attorney has accused a prosecutor and police officers of extortion.

Oliver Bernhard, 40, told Pietermaritzburg magistrate Asha Dathoo on Monday that prosecutor Kwaziwenkosi Zimu was “complicit” in an extortion attempt with three police officers.

“The prosecutor informed me that he would not refer my case for alternative dispute resolution (mediation) unless I paid the police officers. This is extortion and I will not stand for it,” Bernhard said.

Bernhard has also accused Zimu of refusing to withdraw charges against him after another matter was resolved between himself and his partner.

Zimu denied the allegations, saying he “knows nothing about it”.

Dathoo adjourned the case to June 13 to allow Bernhard to make representations to the director of public prosecutions.

Bernhard was arrested on March 21 at the Pietermaritzburg home of his business partner, Claudia Garella, with whom he was allegedly involved in a relationship which had turned sour.

He has been charged with assaulting two police officers, by punching one and throwing the other over a balustrade, and with using Garella’s vehicle without her consent on the same day.

However, both Bernhard and Garella on Monday confirmed they had resolved the matter between them and that Garella no longer wished to pursue the case criminally.

Bernhard claims he was struck with the butt of an R5 rifle during an altercation, and was injured by police who assaulted him.

He

is on bail of R1 500.

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