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City of Cape Town investigator acted ‘inappropriately and shockingly’ in son’s murder case, court finds

City of Cape Town investigator acted ‘inappropriately and shockingly’ in son’s murder case, court finds
Reynold Talmakkies, former police officer who now heads a City of Cape Town investigative unit. (Original Photo: Cambridge Police's Twitter account)

A former police officer who now heads a City of Cape Town investigative unit approached a magistrate presiding over a murder case in which his son is an accused, a move which another court has found ‘highly inappropriate’.

The City of Cape Town is considering what to do after a judgment by the Western Cape Division of the High Court found its Special Investigating Unit head acted shockingly and inappropriately in relation to a murder case in which his son is accused. 

This is after Reynold Talmakkies approached the magistrate who was presiding over the murder case, resulting in her recusing herself from the matter.

The high court judgment, though, found that she reacted in a way that was beyond reproach and need not have recused herself.

Delivered on Tuesday, 21 November, the judgment focuses on the fallout from Talmakkies’ actions, which have caused delays in a murder trial and pointed to a security breach at a court.

It does not detail Talmakkies’ version of events.

Daily Maverick’s call to Talmakkies was not answered on Wednesday and a message was sent to him, but there was no immediate reply.

His son David Talmakkies is one of two accused in a murder case, and it is Talmakkies’ action in relation to that case which culminated in Tuesday’s high court judgment.

Controversial background

Talmakkies is a former South African Police Service officer and now works for the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate.

In April 2021, Daily Maverick reported that he had been accused of fraud in a case, stemming from 2016, that involved alleged docket tweaking linked to a police station in Mpumalanga.

Read more in Daily Maverick: City of Cape Town’s special investigations head charged in cop fraud case

Talmakkies was arrested in a separate matter in December 2021 related to tender fraud involving hundreds of millions of rands. 

Last year, the City of Cape Town confirmed to Daily Maverick that it was aware of the criminal cases involving Talmakkies.

“Mr Talmakkies has been placed on administrative duty while due process is followed in the courts regarding the two matters, both of which arose after his initial appointment,” it said.

City considers options

On Wednesday, Daily Maverick asked the City of Cape Town if Talmakkies was still employed there and, if so, in what capacity.

A response said: “Yes, he is. He is a head in the Special [Investigating] Unit.”

A few years ago, that unit made headlines when then Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille ordered that it be shut down because it was overstepping its mandate.

It was not clear if Talmakkies was still on “administrative duty” as the city previously stated or if he had a more active role in the investigations unit.

In terms of Tuesday’s judgment in which Talmakkies was referenced, a response from the City to Daily Maverick said: “The City has become aware of the judgment that was handed down in the Western Cape High Court … and is currently considering its options.”

Murder case

David Talmakkies faces a charge of murder and another of attempted murder.

The charges stem from an attack in December 2020 when a man named Chad du Plessis was fatally stabbed outside a relative’s home in Strandfontein. 

The murder case against David Talmakkies and his co-accused was being heard in Mitchells Plain and a regional court magistrate had been overseeing it.

However, she recused herself.

This is where Tuesday’s judgment by the Western Cape Division of the High Court fits in.

The recusal matter was referred to the high court for a special review.

According to Tuesday’s judgment, on 24 September 2022 the case against David Talmakkies and his co-accused was meant to have proceeded in Mitchells Plain.

But before it did, the magistrate, who was not named in the high court judgment, addressed those present about what had happened to her after the previous day’s proceedings, which marked the start of the trial.

Magistrate approached after court

“On getting out of the courtroom on my way to the garage for my vehicle an unfortunate event took place,” the magistrate said.

“Having exited the stairs and the door towards my motor vehicle, I was approached by a gentleman from behind. It appeared that the gentleman was one of the members of the public that was here in court.”

The magistrate said the man looked familiar, but she did not immediately recognise him.

He greeted her.

The magistrate continued: “He tried informing me … that he use[d] to work with us here in this court as a senior police officer.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Justice minister and Good party firm that Cape Town cop unit a ‘rogue operation’

“He had a little conversation with me trying to tell me how he has since advanced in his career. That he is now heading a certain section in the Department of Police, but outside Cape Town,” the magistrate said.

“For fear of appearing rude, I restrained myself from asking who exactly he was … He told me that he was Mr Tamakies [sic]. And he told me [that] accused 2 [in the matter] that I am now presiding over … is his son.”

The magistrate said she cut the conversation short.

‘I was not influenced’

She thought about what others, especially family members of the victim in the murder case, would think if they saw her and Talmakkies talking.

“The law says that the court should always appear to be free of any suspicion of bias. Perhaps let me correct myself. It does not say any suspicion. Any reasonable apprehension on a reasonable person of bias,” the magistrate said.

“As I sit here, I fully believe I was not influenced in any manner by that gentleman, but that is not the test … The test is to a reasonable observer of the circumstances, would there be any reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the court.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Guns and ‘rogues’ – the curious case of a ‘stolen’ pistol, a suicide and an allegedly dodgy investigating unit

She added that she intended to recuse herself from the murder case. 

“I must just … inform the members of the public the consequences of my recusal would be that the matter would have to start afresh before another magistrate.”

The magistrate subsequently recused herself even though no application was made to remove her.

‘Open cards’

According to the high court judgment, based on what the magistrate had said ahead of her recusal, “it appears that the conversation between her and the gentleman only involved the introduction of the gentleman to the Magistrate”.

It found she had reacted in a way that “did not even create an impression that she might be reasonably biased”. 

The judgment added: “The magistrate found herself in a very difficult position which was not created by her.

“The heightened vigilance by the magistrate and the openness with which she handled the situation is commendable. The magistrate played open cards with everyone, by laying bare and revealing what the conversation with the person she spoke to was about.”

As for Talmakkies, the judgment was critical of him.

‘Shocking’ behaviour and security breach

“It is worth bearing in mind that, though what the gentleman in question did was clearly highly inappropriate and shocking, particularly if one considers that he also identified himself as a father to one of the accused in the trial; the conversation did not taint the impartiality of the Magistrate,” it said.

The judgment also highlighted that in approaching the magistrate in the way he did, Talmakkies’ actions pointed to a serious security breach.

“I would be remiss if I did not mention that what happened here suggests a serious breach of security,” it said.

“An unauthorised member of the public was able to easily access a magistrate.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Criminal (in)justice: Guardians of the law fear for their safety

The incident should not have happened in the first place. 

“It is undeniable that the breach of security really placed the Magistrate in a very precarious position,” the judgment found.

“One can only imagine the risks that are associated with such breaches.”

The security breach had caused an “unnecessary delay in the administration of justice”.

According to the judgment: “Such reckless breaches of security should always be avoided by court management. The Mitchells Plain court management should take corrective measures to address this particular security breach.”

It was ruled that the magistrate’s recusal from the murder case be reviewed and set aside.

That case also needed to be prioritised and promptly finalised. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Totally inappropriate behaviour from Talmakkies,there is still good magistrates.

  • mike338smyth says:

    Whilst no verbal threat was made to the magistrate whose actions were well thought out and commendable. The threat to the magistrate was implicit. Approached by a member of the public in an area that was supposed to be secure and whilst alone was a threat in itself and an attempt to intimidate by virtue of the ease in which the security breach was made and the fact the magistrate was isolated.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Being approached by some guy from behind in the parking area is generally not appreciated by any female. It’s scary. It also suggests he wanted to accost her alone. Which is also somewhat intimidating.

  • Donavin Hawker says:

    wtf DA?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Of course the action was undeniably inappropriate and wrong, and the person should be censured appropriately. But, being honest, if it was my child…

    What I find most worrying is that the really bad thing here – that the son is being tried for murder – is somehow less relevant in South Africa today than a father trying to protect his son.

  • Micky Moose says:

    Rules for some different rules for others

  • Johan Herholdt says:

    I do wonder on what “merit” the DA appointed Talmakkies – and kept him on after some quite serious fraud allegations?

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