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SCA dismisses ex-cop’s appeal against conviction

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The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed an appeal brought by former police officer David Papiki Komane against a decision of the Limpopo High Court which found him and two co-accused guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The issue before the SCA was whether the trial court should have convicted Komane based on a confession, DNA evidence, the pointing out and whether the applicant had a case to answer.

An outline of the case in the judgment states that Komane, together with three co-accused, was convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances on January 26, 2018 in the High Court in Polokwane.

Accordingly, he was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.

His application for leave to appeal against both conviction and sentence was dismissed by the High Court and he then approached the SCA.

The applicant’s conviction, according to the SCA, arose as a result of a robbery that took place at a G-Force Security Solutions (G4S) Ddpot in Marble Hall.

The movie-style heist happened shortly before midnight on December 9, 2015.

In the well-scripted attack, a group of armed men camouflaged in female clothing broke into the cash depot of the G4S premises.

They bludgeoned open the security doors and the roller garage door before they went in and removed over R11 million in cash.

The petrified female cashiers, who were busy counting the money, sought refuge in the office within the counting hall.

Footage gathered from the CCTV indicates the incident lasted less than 30 minutes.

“After the mayhem at the scene, the robbers fled the premises in various motor vehicles whilst firing gunshots,” the court papers read.

Komane was later arrested at the Marble Hall Police Station where he was employed as a constable in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Following his arrest, his motor vehicle and home were searched but no money was found.

He was then booked into the police cells at Polokwane Police Station for the night.

On December 10, 2015, he was booked out by police officers involved in the investigation of the robbery and he directed a team of investigating officers to a homestead of a healer/priest in Siyabuswa, where he collected a parcel containing over R600 000 in cash.

The money was handed over to one Warrant Officer Lombard and was counted in the applicant’s presence.

Later in the day, Komane made a statement to one of the investigators.

In the trial court, it was submitted on behalf of the applicant that the DNA was circumstantial evidence and was inadequate to sustain a conviction.

Furthermore, the applicant contended that the High Court should not have admitted the applicant’s statement made to one of the investigating officers as the applicant was not afforded legal representation at that time.

He further claimed the statement was dictated to him by a Colonel Brinkman, who was also involved in the investigation of the matter.

The SCA found that the DNA of the applicant was found in a single place with that of his erstwhile co-accused one and two, who were involved in the planning and execution of the robbery from the outset, which could not be said to have been a coincidence.

The SCA also found that the detailed nature of the statement given by the applicant to the investigating officer showed that the applicant had personal knowledge of the events.

In addition, the SCA accepted that the investigating officer knew that the applicant was entitled to legal representation specifically for the purpose of taking the statement.

This, according to the judgment, was clear from the recording of the response given by Komane, where he said: “I have a legal representative who will come to court, I do not need him now.”

Consequently, the SCA held that the trial court was correct in its admission of the statement by the applicant to the investigating officer.

In respect of the pointing out, the SCA held that the manner in which the pointing out was conducted went against what is prescribed in Section 217(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

However, the SCA found that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence on which the applicant was convicted.

It also held that the DNA evidence and the confession, together with all the other evidence, was sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the applicant, together with all his erstwhile co-accused, were complicit in the commission of the robbery with aggravating circumstances, as proven by the state.

The trial court, therefore, convicted him correctly, it concluded. – Staff Reporter

National

Maya appointed deputy chief justice

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MAKING HISTORY AGAIN . . . Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Supreme Court of Appeal Judge President Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya as the deputy chief justice of of South Africa.

A statement issued by the presidency on Monday said Maya will assume her new role from September 1, 2022.

“Justice Maya will contribute to the ongoing transformation process of the judiciary,” said Ramaphosa in the statement.

“Her ascendency to the apex court will serve as a beacon of hope for scores of young women and make them believe that South Africa is a country of possibilities regardless of gender, social or economic circumstances,” he added.

According to the statement, Maya brings more than two decades of a distinguished career as a judicial officer.

She is the first woman to hold the positions of deputy president and president of the Supreme Court of Appeal. – Staff Reporter

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Jessie Duarte laid to rest after succumbing to cancer

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SUCCUMBED TO CANCER . . . ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte

ANC deputy secretary general and former ambassador Jessie Duarte was laid to rest on Sunday afternoon.

She succumbed to cancer on Sunday morning and, as per Muslim rites, she was buried after a funeral service at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.

In his message of condolence, President Cyril Ramaphosa described Duarte as a selfless leader whose love and passion for assisting the poor were immeasurable.

“Jessie Duarte’s sense of justice was keen. Her sympathies for the poor, the vulnerable, the destitute, and the marginalised ran deep.

“She had empathy and could walk in other people’s shoes and see through their eyes. It is this that enabled her to see the suffering of our people and empathise with them.

“She took up their cause and stood firm on her principles, even when her stance attracted criticism or personal attack. She was a champion of the oppressed everywhere,” said Ramaphosa.

The president said ANC officials had planned to visit Duarte on Sunday afternoon, but were instead met by the news of her death.

He stressed the pivotal role played by her in her pursuit of equality.

“As the secretary of the Federation of Transvaal Women, she was part of building and leading a powerful women’s movement that directly challenged the oppression of black women and shook the foundations of the apartheid state.

“She mobilised women across the country to resist the restrictions imposed upon them by a racist and sexist political system and a patriarchal society.”

Ramaphosa declared a special official funeral for Duarte.

She was granted the special funeral as a result of having been South Africa’s ambassador to Mozambique from 1999 to 2003.

The 69-year-old Duarte was undergoing cancer treatment and had been on medical leave since November last year. – News24

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Eskom puzzled by municipalities taking it to court

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JUST PAY UP . . . Eskom Central East Cluster general manager Agnes Mlambo wants municipalities to settle their accounts on time and avoid unnecessary court battles

National power utility Eskom says it does not understand why some municipalities failing to settle their accounts on time choose to rush to the courts instead of simply paying what’s due.

Eskom’s Central East Cluster general manager Agnes Mlambo said this after Letsemeng Local Municipality in the Free State and Matlosana Local Municipality in the North-West were forced in two separate court rulings this week to settle the arrears for their bulk electricity supplies and always pay on time as they are legally obliged to do.

Mlambo, who is responsible for the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal region, says she finds it incredible that some municipalities are willing to spend millions on legal costs instead of using the funds to pay for electricity services delivered by Eskom.

“This proves the unwillingness of these municipalities to do the right thing, which is to fulfil their legal duties by paying Eskom for electricity supplied,” Mlambo is quoted as saying in a statement.

“These municipalities collect revenue from electricity sales at a mark-up from their customers, but do not pass the revenue on to Eskom.

“In the meantime, Eskom must cover the costs of diesel, coal, salaries and other expenses to keep supplying electricity to these non-paying municipalities.”

Eskom provincial spokesperson Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg said the judgments conclude lengthy legal battles that started in 2020 when the power utility served the municipalities with notices to interrupt electricity services due to non-payment of their electricity accounts.

“Both judgments are unambiguous on the obligation of the municipalities to service their Eskom current accounts and pay arrear debt,” said Van Rensburg.

She said since the start of the legal proceedings, the two municipalities have been taking payment holidays but they now have to pay.

In January 2020, Letsemeng’s arrear debt totalled R41.1-million.

Now, two and a half years later, the municipality’s overdue debt has risen to R119.7-million and it is faced with paying the legal costs of both parties.

And similar to Letsemeng, Matlosana’s arear debt stood at R422.4-million in January 2020 and has now reached a staggering R1.054-billion.

Eskom Northern Cape and North- West Cluster general manager Marion Hughes said payment for services is imperative for institutions to be sustainable.

“We should not have to use extraordinary measures, like the courts, in order to receive payment for services rendered,” said Hughes.

“For Eskom to survive another 99 years and more, a high sense of responsibility and commitment is needed by all.” – Staff Reporter

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