Magistrate Simon Sibanyoni denied bail to the six accused Phakamani Hadebe (accused 1), Zitha Radebe (accused 2), Phinda Ndlovu (accused 3), Sanele Mbhele (accused 4), Siphiwe Mazibuko (accused 5) and Siphakanyiswa Dladla (accused 6) in the Johannesburg Regional Court on Monday, 20 December.
The six face charges of murder relating to the assassination of Deokaran outside the her home on Monday, 23 August 2021, in Winchester Hills, attempted murder and the possession of an illegal firearm. The charge of attempted murder relates to the attempt to kill a person who was near the deceased’s car and witness the incident.
Deokaran was gunned down in front of her house around 8.30am on the morning in question shortly after she dropped off her daughter at school. It is the State’s contention the murder was premeditated, politically motivated and that the accused acted with common purpose in executing the apparent hit.
At the time of her demise Deokaran was a key witness in the Special Investigation Unit probe into the R332-million personal protective equipment (PPE) scandal at the Gauteng health depart
On Tuesday, 2 November 2021, the bail proceedings of the six accused got underway at the Johannesburg Regional Court. Hadede in his affidavit in support of his bail application dropped a bombshell.
In his original confession of 27 August 2021, a day after his arrest, Hadebe stated that former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and his brother initially ordered the hit on Deokaran. But in his affidavit he made u-turn claiming that the confession was made under duress and continued torture and assault of the police.
The admissibility of Hadebe’s confession became a bone of contention. Following this revelation Mkhize released a statement on Wednesday, 3 November 2021, denying any involvement adding he was shocked that his name had been dragged into the case.
In Hadebe’s supplementary affidavit and argument by his legal representative advocate Pieter Wilkins the defence contended that the unequivocal denial by Mkhize on the contends of the confession by Hadebe relating to Mkhize’s involvement to the crime together with at least the explanation as to the improbability to his connection with offence, affords further basis for a finding even that as this early stage is palpable false
Wilkins also argued that Mkhize’s press statement should be given weight. But Sibanyoni underlined the court wishes to state that the legal representative of the applicants were misdirected on this aspect
“Their argument cannot be upheld in that Mkhize’s press statement was not made under oath. It is a mere press statement with no evidential weight and therefore this court is not going to attach any weight to such a press statement. The court is not going to make a finding that Hadebe’s confession is false,” Sibanyoni said.
Another point of contention ventilated by Wilkins was that the State cannot link the six accused to the charges against them and argued that this bail court has to pronounce that the confessions and point outs made by the accused obtained by force or assault of the accused will at the trial not be admissible.
But Sibanyoni reading out his judgment said: “In order to successfully challenge the merits of bail application the applicant must prove that on the balance of probability that they will be acquitted on the charges.
“The State doesn’t have to show its hand in advance not until the time contents of the docket must be made available. The issue of admissibility and the credibility of statements will be decided by the trial court having considered the credibility and reliability of the witnesses in the matter. Such evidence is not before the court and a determination on the admissibility is not currently possible nor is it required.”
The court also found that in the affidavit of the investigating officer in this matter, Captain Masaenkani Chauke, there is additional evidence making a prima facie case against the accused.
It is against backdrop that Sibanyoni found: “The accused in respect of their attacks on the confession and pointing outs have failed to show that on the balance of probabilities that they will be acquitted on the charges they face
“It is therefore submitted that the applicants attack in the State the applicants failed to adduce evidence to prove to the satisfaction of the court the existence of exceptional circumstances justifying their release on bail.”
Sibanyoni also indicated the court is not going to make any finding that the confessions or pointing outs by the accused are inadmissible. The admissibility or not of the confessions will be determined by the trial court.
As to whether applicants were denied their rights to legal representation or access to them this aspect is also in dispute and has a bearing on their admissibility or not on the confessions and pointing outs. Resultantly the court also ruled not to make a finding on this aspect.
The six accused face serious offences and if convicted they might be sentenced to prison for a very long time. This might necessitate the applicants not standing their trial if released on bail, the court found.
Sibanyoni reiterated that all six either by confessions or points outs at this stage are linked to the murder of Deokaran, until such time that the trial court makes a finding on their admissibility or not of such confessions on pointing outs.
Sibanyoni also reiterated it is abundantly clear that the interests of justice does not permit their release on bail. They all are linked to the charges against them. There is nothing exceptional that the accused place before the court which justify their release on bail, the court ruled.
The matter has been postponed for further investigation and the six are back in court on 24 February 2022. DM/MC