JOHANNESBURG - Salaries earned by police officers were laid bare in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday when a defence lawyer revealed that one of the cops arrested in connection with wrongdoing during the counterfeit raids takes home only R9 000 a month.
Arguing for reduced bail from the suggested R30 000, Molato Mostao’s lawyer Rakesh Singh told the court that his "client earns R9 000 after deductions, has two minors and has to pay his [mortgage] bond and a car installment. His wife is a call centre agent and earns R4 000 ... so their combined monthly home take is R13,000”.
Mostao is one of the 10 policemen arrested after last week's counterfeit raids in the CBD.
Another accused Samuel Sekopara’s lawyer Yolisa Mtumtum echoed Singh’s sentiments. Mtumtum told the court that it would be virtually impossible to pay the suggested bail.
“The amount is too high. My client earns R8 000 and has three kids. His insurance will only be able to pay R5 000 and his wife is employed as an intern and earns R2 500,” said Mtumtum.
Last week hundreds of armed police swooped on the CBD and confiscated counterfeit goods. More than 500 foreign nationals suspected of being in South Africa illegally were also picked up during the raid. Many of them appeared in court on Monday and now face deportation.
Earlier the court heard how two members of the police Tactical Response Team (TRT) were arrested for a possible leak of information about the counterfeit raid. The accused were recorded on CCTV.
“The pair was seen travelling in a state vehicle marked TRT and approached two females. They were seen taking a box which was assumed to contain branded clothes," said state prosecutor, Sugenda Moodley.
"Then another box was exchanged. We still have not been able to locate the second box and we are hoping it will be found with further investigations.”
During the bail hearing it emerged that all the accused were still full members of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
“They have not been suspended and are still fully-fledged members of the SAPS. One of their bail conditions would be not to make contact with witnesses," revealed prosecutor Moodley.
After Magistrate Lucas van der Schyff heard the arguments, he agreed to the bail amount of R5,000.
“The two are not regarded as a flight risk and R5 000 should not be completely out of reach. The matter has therefore been postponed to the 27 September for further investigation," said Van der Schyff.
Both accused were granted bail of up to R5,000 each, but not before the magistrate warned them against contacting witnesses in the matter.
Initially, 10 police officers were arrested. They included Marubini Aubrey Raphebele, Thulane Philemon Bopela, Petrose Mosiuoa, Samuel Motaung, Timothy Piet Mohlala, Zandile Rachel Nebe, Makhangeni Kenneth Makhubele, and Joseph Morethebe Tsotetsi.
The arrested police officers face multiple charges including extortion, theft, corruption and defeating the ends of justice.
The other accused, who remain in custody, will appear in court on Monday, 19 August, for bail applications.