The Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court. PHOTO: Raahil Sain/ANA

PORT ELIZABETH - Former police Constable Walter Francis, who allegedly planned the execution of a State witness in a gang-related murder trial, was granted bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Friday. 

Francis brought the bail application on new facts after he was initially denied bail by Magistrate Sanjani Naidoo. 

According to the defence, Francis is no longer employed by South African Police Service (SAPS) but there was an arbitration process underway with intent to have his axing overturned. 

Francis is charged with the murder of Alex Ferreira, who was scheduled to testify as a Section 204 witness in another murder case, in which Francis’s gun was allegedly used. 

Ferreira was gunned down in Bethelsdorp last year, and left for dead. He was visiting family at the time and was not in protective custody. 

Defence advocate Terry Price argued that the case docket showed the State had a very weak case. 

Price also argued that there was simply no evidence to show that Francis drove the vehicle transporting Sameal Gallant and Wayne Wabanie to execute the hit. 

"The case is so weak we may have a case against the police for unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution," said Price. 

Price said that the State were relying on a single witness who alleged in a statement that Francis told him that "they were going to do a number". 

"What is a number? Does that mean a murder?" asked Price. 

Price said the defence was not denying Francis drove the two men, however, Francis did not know if their intentions were to rob or kill. 

State Prosecutor Jason Thysse said that Ferreira was meant to testify in the case against Francis where his official police firearm was allegedly used.

Thysse said it was for the trial court to decide on the credibility of the latest witness, whose name is being withheld at this stage. 

He maintained the State had a strong case in that Francis picked up shooters to execute Ferreira. 

However, Magistrate Morne Cannon agreed with the defence that the State's case was weak and Francis's evidence did constitute new facts and exceptional circumstances which warranted his release on bail. 

In his view, Cannon said that there was no evidence to suggest that Francis would interfere with witnesses. 

"There is a single witness and there is no evidence that he is linked to the murder other than the words they will do a number," said Cannon. 

Francis was ordered to pay an amount of R2,000 for bail and report to the Bethelsdorp Police Station twice a week. 

The case was postponed to April 17. 

African News Agency/ANA