Home South African Supreme Court voices displeasure at judge referring to evidence as being ‘s***’

Supreme Court voices displeasure at judge referring to evidence as being ‘s***’

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While looking at the record of the proceedings before Judge Makgoba, the judges of the Supreme Court noticed that the judge referred to the evidence of a priest, Johannes Mampane, as being “s***”.

The judges of the Supreme Court noticed that a judge referred to the evidence of a priest, Johannes Mampane, as being “s***”. Picture: File

THE SUPREME Court of Appeal this week voiced its displeasure at the language used by Limpopo High Court Judge President Ephraim Makgoba, who apparently referred to the evidence of one of the witnesses as being “s***.”

Former Marble Hall police constable David Komane turned to the Supreme Court to appeal his conviction and 18-year sentence after Judge Makgoba found him guilty of an R11 million heist.

While looking at the record of the proceedings before Judge Makgoba, the judges of the Supreme Court noticed that the judge referred to the evidence of a priest, Johannes Mampane, as being “s***”.

Judge Yvonne Mbatha, who wrote the judgment, said: “The transcript reveals that the learned judge referred to Mr Mampane’s evidence as follows: ‘It is s***’. Assuming that this transcription is accurate, it warrants this court noting its disapproval.”

She added that it was unacceptable for a judicial officer to use profane language in a judgment.

“It is offensive, to say the least. As judicial officers, we need to show decorum and respect to everyone, irrespective of their station in society or the nature of the evidence they give.”

She said nothing prevented Judge Makgoba from making credibility findings if he did not believe in the veracity of Mampane’s testimony.

The appeal in which the remarks were made followed Komane’s complaints that there was no direct evidence to link him to the heist.

The State relied on circumstantial evidence, especially DNA evidence found on bags that were used to stash the loot.

The applicant’s conviction arose as a result of a robbery at a G-Force Security Solutions Depot in Marble Hall. Shortly before midnight on December 9, 2015, a group of armed men, disguised in female clothing, broke into the cash depot of the G4S premises.

Having bludgeoned open the security doors and the roller garage door, they went in and removed more than R11 million in cash. The petrified female cashiers, who were counting the money, sought refuge in the office within the counting hall. According to a technical support officer who was operating the cameras, the robbery lasted no more than 30 minutes.

After the mayhem at the scene, the robbers fled the premises in various motor vehicles while firing gunshots.

It later turned out that some security measures had been breached that night as certain cameras were bypassed, and the truck, which was often parked outside the shutter door to the counting hall, was not in place that night.

Komane was arrested on the same day at Marble Hall police station where he worked. Following his arrest, his motor vehicle and home were searched by the arresting officer, but no money was found. He was then booked into the police cells at Polokwane police station for the night.

The following day, he took the police to the homestead of a healer/priest in Siyabuswa where he collected a parcel. The parcel turned out to be money – R600 000 – which was handed over to the police.

Another bag and a 25 litre yellow plastic bin, both filled with money, were later recovered in the vehicle used during the heist.

These contained the DNA of Komane.

Although he is disputing this, he never testified during his trial to explain how his DNA got onto the bags.

The priest, during his evidence, told the court that he knew nothing about the R600 000 which Komane fetched from him. He said he thought Komane was fetching medicine. It was this evidence to which Judge Makgoba referred to as “s***”.

In turning down Komane’s appeal, the Supreme Court found that all fingers pointed at him being guilty.

Pretoria News

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