Opinionista Barry Bateman 8 August 2013

Bees Roux: A study in black and white

Jacobus “Bees” Roux has done dues for unintentionally killing a corrupt cop. Unfortunately, in a race-obsessed country, he will continue to pay for some time to come.

Nearly three years after burly rugby player Jacobus “Bees” Roux unintentionally killed a corrupt Tshwane Metro Police officer who was trying to rob him, he appears to be making a return to domestic rugby.

It’s emerged that two teams – one of them the Golden Lions – are in talks with his agent for a possible signing in the next Currie Cup season. Good news for Roux, who has spent the last two seasons since the court case was concluded playing in France and Italy.

But the return hasn’t been welcomed all-round, particularly by the race-baiters who from day one distorted this incident to suit their own agenda.

For them, a white Afrikaans man attacking a black policeman fits the narrative of the “typical racist Afrikaner who refuses to accept black authority” – this belief shows up their own prejudice, which is further emphasised by their refusal to consider the facts of the case.

Sergeant Ntshimane Mogale died on 27 August 2010 of serious head wounds on Schoeman Street, near the N4 Highway, in Hatfield. He was driving Roux’s car when he was elbowed in the head. Mogale and two colleagues had just minutes earlier pulled the rugby player over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

But instead of reading the driver his rights, detaining him, having his blood drawn and locking him up at the nearest police station, the police officers decided to rob him – an exercise described by the state as a “criminal frolic of their own”.

Roux states in his plea agreement that he was never told that he was under arrest, and that Mogale repeatedly asked him for his bank card pin number – and when he refused to hand over the details, he was threatened with assault.

Roux said he realised that Mogale, despite being a policeman, was intent on perpetrating a very serious crime and that he might kill him. “The deceased proceeded to drive around with me and repeated the demand for the pin number of my bank card. When I saw the N4 Highway looming before us… I realised I was in a desperate situation… I resolved to defend myself by striking numerous blows with my elbow against against the left hand side of his head and face. My purpose was to incapacitate him so as to prevent the continuation of the kidnapping.”

When considering the matter, the state noted that Mogale and his colleagues were acting in breach of their duties as metro police officers.

Specific reference was made to the fact that “the crime was brought about in part by the unlawful conduct of the deceased, which on the one hand tends to ameliorate the moral blameworthiness of the accused to an extent.”

The state further noted that Roux is “a large person of unusual physical strength who, through no fault of his own… found himself in a situation of emergency which justified the application of physical force and is, in the circumstances, not indicative of inherent vice on the part of the accused.”

Quite often the response to this is that the Roux’s version was accepted because the victim is dead and cannot speak.

But there were witnesses – Mogale’s two colleagues, fellow men of the law. Why didn’t they testify to support their slain colleague? They couldn’t, because they were party to the criminal exploit to try and rob the motorist.

Roux was released on bail because his lawyer was able to show that the state had a weak case. Mogale’s two colleagues refused to give police statements of what happened that night. Magistrate Desmond Nair remarked in his ruling that it was unfortunate the Mogale’s colleagues refused “to come to the party”.

They could not explain away the circumstances which led to Mogale driving Roux’s car. They could not explain why Roux was not handcuffed and in the back of a van. They could not explain away GPS data which showed them driving up and down the streets of Hatfield while Mogale threatened Roux. They could not explain why they were heading onto the N4 Highway, away from the nearest police station.

Everything is consistent with a bunch of police thugs abusing their position of authority to victimise a motorist.

Witnesses who did give statements to the police were those who saw Roux and Mogale tumble out of his moving car. They watched as the white man continued the punch the black man in a fit of rage. But they also confirm that the white man asked the bystanders to call the police. Roux also then tried to revive Mogale, as confirmed by the witnesses.

The same lot which persists with the claim that this was a racially motivated incident also argue that Roux bought his freedom, that a price was put on a black man’s life – Roux paid R750,000 compensation to Mogale’s widow.

But such a claim is again without substance and ignores the facts as set out above. The state had the option to continue with its murder prosecution and would have had to rely on Mogale’s fine colleagues to testify.

They could never have explained why Mogale was driving Roux up and down the streets of Hatfield and eventually towards the N4 without conceding they were up to no good.

Going to trial would have meant Roux would have spent that R750,000 on legal fees which would ultimately have led to his acquittal. But this would have probably taken years to reach finality and it would have hampered his desire to continue his career as a professional rugby player.

Instead the state, knowing full well it did not have a case, entered the plea which took into account the principles of restorative justice, and attempted in some way to set right what had happened, within reason, of course.

Roux admitted that he was under the influence of alcohol that night. The state couldn’t prove this because even after his arrest for murder, blood samples weren’t taken. But he made this admission, he told the truth and fully disclosed to the court what happened. His records show he has no previous run-ins with the law and is not violent by nature. Roux has apologised for what happened, he has shown remorse.

The research shows that corruption in South Africa’s police and metro services is rife, while confidence in these authorities is low. Police brutality has become all too familiar, yet the version that Roux was a man fearful for his own life, and that he acted in self-defence against a criminal cop, is continually disregarded solely on the basis that he is white and that the other party is black.

To ignore the facts of this case and perpetuate falsehoods is the real racism in this case. And just like the night a person who is expected to uphold the law tried to rob another, Bees Roux is the real victim. DM


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