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Another blow to Henderson trial

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The Northern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew its notice to oppose yesterday while the minister did not respond or provide an answering affidavit

IN COURT: Sentencing procedures are set to finally get underway today in the Kimberley Magistrates Court for whistle-blower Ross Henderson (centre) and his co-accused, Itumeleng Moroka and Freddy Witbooi, in a trail that started 30 years ago. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE SENTENCING of Kimberley whistle-blower Ross Henderson, together with his two co-accused who were found guilty of theft and fraud in 2005, has again been dealt another blow after the Northern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew its opposition in a civil matter to restrain the magistrate from presiding over the criminal case.

The charges against Henderson and his co-accused, Itumeleng Moroka and Freddy Witbooi, relate to a stolen cheque form the North West University that was paid into the accounts of Witbooi and Moroka, who then deposited the money into Henderson’s account after they had loaned money from him in 1995.

While retired Kimberley Magistrate Smit Odendaal du Plessis was adamant this week that there would be no further delays in the sentencing of the three accused, a high court application once again put a spanner in the works.

Henderson, Moroka and Witbooi approached the Northern Cape High Court a day before sentencing was due to start this week, asking for an urgent court interdict to prevent Du Plessis from presiding over the proceedings in their criminal case.

They argued that he had not been properly appointed as a magistrate as he had taken early retirement while the trial was still ongoing.

The minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Du Plessis and the Northern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions all indicated initially that they would oppose the application by the three accused. The Northern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew its notice to oppose yesterday while the minister did not respond or provide an answering affidavit.

Judgment in this matter was reserved yesterday by Judge Mamosebo.

In the meantime, the criminal case, where sentencing proceedings were due to start yesterday afternoon, was rolled over until today before Magistrate Vernon Smith, to await the outcome of the high court decision.