Johannesburg - The bail applications of five police officers who were arrested during recent counterfeit raids in Johannesburg were postponed on Monday to allow for further investigations.
The decision was made after it emerged that a crucial witness had not yet been spoken to by investigators.
The Johannesburg Magistrate's Court heard that a "person of interest" had not been questioned by the investigating officer.
The policemen are accused of taking a bribe to look the other way during the raids and face charges of theft and defeating the ends of justice.
The accused are Marubini Aubrey Raphebele, Thulane Philemon Bopela, Petrose Mosiuoa, Samuel Motaung and Timothy Piet Mohlala. The officers allege they were trying to help a shop owner return goods to his store.
Acting for Bopela, lawyer Khanyi Dhlakama read his statement into the record: “During the seizure of counterfeit goods, Nigerian men accosted them and they examined the goods. They were then satisfied and stopped a random van and instructed the owner to assist them”.
“Colonel Pillay granted us permission to have the things offloaded. We did so but shortly received a call from the police station and were questioned and arrested. It is alleged that we were observed by the anti-crime unit taking R500 from the men, which is not true.”
Acting for Mohlala, lawyer Hloni Lehoka questioned how the suspects were arrested if not one of them was found with R500, yet the total money allegedly collected was R3 000.
“If you are not able to point out which one of the five men took R500 from the Nigerian men, what is the basis of the arrest?” he asked investigating officer Phineas Sepoa.
The affidavits of all of the accused mention that it was Pillay who granted them permission to off-load the goods, but he was never mentioned. When Sepoa was questioned about this he said: “We didn’t question him, I am shocked to hear this.”
Magistrate Basimane Molwana ordered an adjournment while Sepoa called Pillay, who said he would not be interested in testifying unless he was subpoenaed by the court.
“I want Pillay in court. That is what will assist us. This case has a lot of influence in the outside world, it is one of xenophobia and corruption, more so because police were supposed to restore order, but it is in fact the other way around. I therefore postpone this matter to 26 August,” said magistrate Molwana.
African News Agency (ANA)