Cop's habits queried in Krejcir case

Johannesburg - The police officer who took down the confession of Desai Luphondo, one of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir's co-accused, was accused on Tuesday of making it a habit to keep witnesses from accessing their lawyers.

"There is a practice within your unit of barring people from seeing their lawyers or seeking legal advice," Annelene van den Heever, for Krejcir and Luphondo, told Captain Bongani Gininda in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge.

Van den Heever said Gininda had barred another lawyer from accessing Mfaniseni Memela following his arrest in May.

Memela was arrested following allegations that he, Krejcir, Luphondo, and several others had been involved in a plot to kill a police officer and a private investigator.

Van den Heever said only after intervention and an order from top ranking officials was Memela allowed access to his lawyer.

Gininda said this was untrue.

"The accused's sister said she wants to deal with his legal arrangements. She said she wants nothing to do with the lawyers linked to accused number one," said Gininda, referring to Krejcir.

On Monday, Van den Heever claimed that police denied Luphondo access to a phone to call his family and his lawyer prior to him delivering his confession.

She submitted that Gininda bargained with Luphondo, claiming he would be allowed to talk to his family once he had submitted a confession.

The court is currently in the midst of a trial-within-a-trial following allegations that Gininda and other police officials had assaulted and influenced Luphondo into making a confession about his role in the kidnapping, assault, and attempted murder case.

Van den Heever objected to the court accepting the confession as evidence.

Gininda has testified that Luphondo freely made his statement. He had not observed anything suggesting that he had been assaulted prior to making the confession.

Alleged police assault

On Tuesday, Van den Heever told the court that Luphondo's youngest son had witnessed police assaulting his father as they arrested him on 22 November 2013.

He made an affidavit on the matter and it was submitted during Luphondo's bail application last year.

Van den Heever claimed the police never disputed the assault claims.

Krejcir, Luphondo, Warrant Officers Samuel "Saddam" Maropeng and George Nthoroane, Jan Lefu Mofokeng and Siboniso Miya are on trial for kidnapping, attempted murder and dealing in drugs.

They allegedly recruited a man known as Doctor Nkosi to help smuggle 25kg of tik (methamphetamine) to Australia.

He worked for a cargo company at OR Tambo International Airport, when he disappeared with the shipment.

Krejcir and his co-accused allegedly then kidnapped and tortured his brother Bheki Lukhele in a bid to have him reveal his sibling's whereabouts.

Nkosi has also testified in the trial, where he confessed to stealing the drugs.