Pretoria - The bail application of former crime intelligence officer Morris Tshabalala, also known as Captain KGB, was postponed in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Friday because his attorney could not travel to court.
Tshabalala's lawyer Mpesi Makhanya told presiding Magistrate Nicca Setshogoe that due to the harsh weather conditions, characterised by heavy rains and floods in Pretoria, Captain KGB's attorney Annelene van den Heever had to deal with an unforeseen emergency and therefore could not make it to court.
"Due to the weather conditions, she has had to deal with an unforeseen personal commitment," said Makhanya.
Setshogoe then postponed the matter to March 28, provisionally.
Tshabalala was in chains, and accompanied by several armed correctional services officers.
Earlier this month, Van den Heever complained that Tshabalala was being treated like an animal and being denied his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Van den Heever protested as soon as Tshabalala, in leg irons and shackles, was escorted into the courtroom by a heavy contingent of armed police officers and correctional services guards.
“Allow me to interrupt my learned colleague [state prosecutor] and request that the shackles be removed from my client. I do not know why he is in shackles and accompanied by armed people in court,” said Van den Heever at the time.
“When he was brought to court, he was kept in the back of the truck like an animal. He was not taken into cells. That infringes on my client’s right to be perceived innocent. He has the right to be treated fairly. Access to this court is also being restricted. This is supposed to be an open court.”
Setshogoe then ordered that Tshabalala be unshackled, with correctional services officers obeying instantly.
Van den Heever also took issue with the presence of the numerous police officers, wielding R5 assault rifles, standing guard at the courtroom door.
“We counted at least 19 heavily armed people. It has not been like this during previous appearances. Today they are armed to the teeth,” she said.
Prosecutor Chris Smith told the court that security had been heightened because there were issues “relating to the security of the suspect”.
Tshabalala faces charges of fraud, theft and corruption. He is seeking bail for a second time, based on “new facts”.
He was arrested in December while checking in with his parole officer in Pretoria central and charged with theft and defrauding his employer, the South African Police Service.
The charges include theft and defrauding the crime intelligence’s secret slush fund of the SAPS of more than R500,000.
According to the charge sheet, Tshabalala, in one instance, defrauded the SAPS by falsely claiming that R470 000 was “needed to pay for blinds and curtains for a safe house” and he pocketed more than R200 000.
Despite having at least two criminal convictions, for armed robbery, masterminding a cash-in-transit heist and attempted murder, Tshabalala had the highest police clearance and was employed by the crime intelligence unit.
"Captain KGB" was previously arrested in 1994, and convicted in 1996 for robbery with aggravating circumstances. He was sentenced to ten years behind bars.
After serving just over two years at the Groenpunt Maximum Correctional Service Centre, Tshabalala was released. He was then re-employed by SAPS after he was released on parole.
At the beginning of this month, Tshabalala was rushed to an external hospital after he reportedly tried to commit suicide in prison, after allegedly hearing that his parole had been revoked and he was now in jail as a sentenced prisoner.
At the time, Correctional Services told African News Agency (ANA) that Tshabalala was unwell.
“We can confirm that inmate Morris Lesiba Tshabalala had to be treated by our medical personnel after reporting that he was not feeling well,” said spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo.
“The inmate was stabilised and subsequently transferred to an outside facility for further medical examination.”
African News Agency/ANA