It appears the six men accused of killing Babita Deokaran want certain statements they made after they were arrested thrown out.
This emerged in the Johannesburg Regional Court on Tuesday, when the men – Phakamani Radebe, Zitha Radebe, Nhlangano Ndlovu, Siphakanyiswa Dladla, Simphiwe Mazibuko and Sanele Mbele – made their fourth appearance in the dock.
They were supposed to apply for bail on Tuesday but this wound up being postponed – again – because the recording system wasn’t working.
Counsel for the accused, advocate Peter Wilkins, on Tuesday moved an application to proceed with the bail bid regardless using the “longhand” system which was in place before audio recording machines were introduced in the courts.
Magistrate Simon Sibanyoni wound up dismissing the application in the end, citing concerns with the reliability of this system.
During arguments, Wilkins told the court his clients felt they were being “failed by the criminal justice system” and pointed to claims that they had been denied legal representation after they were first arrested.
“The accused feel at this stage that they have become victims,” he said.
In response, state advocate Steven Rubin said the accused in fact intended on moving to have certain statements they had made after their arrest ruled inadmissible on these grounds but that the state would dispute their claims.
He said the issue should be dealt with at trial.
Deokaran was gunned down outside her home in Mondeor, in south Johannesburg, in August in what many say may have been a hit.
Nothing was stolen and the acting chief financial officer for the Gauteng department of health, Deokaran was also one of the witnesses in the Special Investigating Unit’s probe into allegations of graft involving a R300 million personal protective equipment tender.
According to media reports, she had also received threatening messages in the run-up to her death.
The six suspects currently before court were arrested less than a week later and are facing charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, posession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition and attempted murder.
They, however, are thought to have been hired hands – with further reports suggesting a high-ranking ANC official has also been implicated – and the authorities have previously indicated that more arrests were imminent.
Their bail application has now been postponed to early next month.