Ex-top cop Phahlane considers stay of prosecution
On Thursday, Phahlane’s defence lawyer Piet du Plessis confirmed that his client was looking at his legal options after magistrate Nicca Setshogoe withdrew charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering against him and his co-accused.
Setshogoe made the ruling after the State conceded that it was not ready for trial.
But the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) - the main complainant against the accused - said it would soon reinstate the charges against Phahlane.
Phahlane stood accused on the charges along with his wife Beauty - also a police officer - as well as business- man Durandt Snyman in the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court.
Du Plessis said the State was on a “fishing expedition” to charge his client.
“The withdrawal of the charges means that the State did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute the matter. They must get their house in order. They must reinstate the charges against him soon or else we would apply for a stay of permanent prosecution,” Du Plessis said.
He said Phahlane was initially accused of having bought a music system worth R80000, but that allegation could not stand in court.
Later, he said, Phahlane was accused of having purchased a house for R8million, but his accusers failed to include it in the formal charges against him.
“This was just a trial by media to tarnish his (Phahlane) image. There is no evidence against him. These guys are just robbing the country of a good police officer,” Du Plessis said.
Phahlane echoed the sentiments of his lawyers.
“I was told that I bought a house for R8m. I showed them proof that I took out a bond for R3m. An evaluator was also sent to my house to value it. Surprisingly, the outcome of that report is not in court,” he said.
“I was accused that someone bought a music system for me for R80000. My accusers have yet to reveal the identity of the person. They also said I own seven cars but I told them that I only own three cars,” he said.
Phahlane said he welcomed the latest investigations against him involving the alleged award of a lucrative tender to Keith Keating of Forensic Data Analysts.
“I do not sit in any body or association which awards contracts. I’ve not signed any contracts to anyone,” Phahlane said.
“I am not excited about the outcome of the case and I can say that I have the full confidence of the criminal justice system, especially our courts. The outcome of the case is not a surprise to me.”
Phahlane added that he was loyal to the country and wanted to remain in the SAPS.
Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said yesterday’s outcome was not an acquittal.
“In addition, there is a pending litigation in which the suspects are challenging the search warrants. This challenge is set to be heard on June 18 at the North Gauteng High Court.
“We believe that the evidence obtained during the contested search will further strengthen the already strong case against the suspects,” Dlamini said.
In court, the application for a postponement led to a fierce argument between State prosecutor Dries van Rensburg and defence counsels Du Plessis and advocate Piet van Wyk.
The prosecution wanted the court to allow them more time to obtain “outstanding forensic reports”, which they believed could link more suspects to the alleged offences and possibly the addition of more charges against Phahlane.
But the defence objected, arguing that the case was set down for yesterday, to allow the prosecution to serve a final indictment on Phahlane and his co-accused and to set a trial date.
In her ruling, Setshogoe expressed doubt on whether the State would be ready for trial if she grants them the postponement. She also said the likelihood of arrest of more suspects could also delay the trial.
“The new suspects would have to be timeously informed of the charges against them and also be allowed an opportunity to make formal bail applications as required by the law.
“At the same time, their legal representatives are also likely to request more time to familiarise themselves with the contents of the charges against their clients,” Setshogoe said.
She withdrew the charges after the State conceded that it would not want to place the matter on trial without “outstanding crucial information”.
Earlier, in his concession, Van Rensburg said there were three companies conducting forensic investigations, noting that one of them was involved in the tender to supply forensic equipment to the police and the pricing of the equipment.
He said the State was only in possession of draft reports, which would be insufficient to use in the trial.