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Top Gauteng magistrate to mull over bail for alleged killers of whistle-blower Babita Deokaran

Babita Deokaran had just returned from dropping her child off at school Monday when she was gunned down. She was still in her car outside when she was shot.

Babita Deokaran had just returned from dropping her child off at school Monday when she was gunned down. She was still in her car outside when she was shot.

Published Dec 9, 2021

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Johannesburg - A Joburg Magistrate has asked for more time to make a substantial and informed judgment in the bail application of six men accused of killing whistle-blower, Babita Deokaran, in cold blood outside her home in August.

Magistrate Simon Sibanyoni made the request moments after the controversy involving the nationality of Phinda Ndlovu was cleared in the Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

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The controversy emerged on November 29, after the State prosecutor Advocate Steve Rubin told the court that Ndlovu had initially upon his arrest informed the police that he was a Zimbabwean national but later retracted that statement. Concerned about the statement and its likelihood to impact on his bail decision, Magistrate Sibanyoni ordered that Home Affairs should confirm Ndlovu’s nationality including his legal status in South Africa.

On Thursday, however, Rubin told the court that they had been unable to secure an official from Home Affairs to testify, including to verify the legal status of Ndlovu. Despite the difficulty to obtain a Home Affairs official, the state accepted a sworn affidavit written by Wenzeleni Masengeni - the biological mother of Ndlovu.

In her affidavit, Masengani - a traditional healer - provided the court with birth details of Ndlovu, saying he was born to her and Phatheyakhe Ndlovu (whose nationality was not revealed in court). Masengeni also said that she was legally married to Patheyakhe Ndlovu but opted to use her maiden surname while the accused used his paternal surname.

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The mother also confirmed that she was aware that her son left for Joburg in August this year and continues to reside in it.

As a result of the affidavit, both the state and defence accepted its contests. Ndlovu stands accused along with Phakamani Hadebe; Zitha Radebe; Sanele Mbele; Siphiwe Mazibuko and Siphakanyiswa Dladla charged with the cold-blooded murder of Deokana outside her home in Winchester Hills on August 23.

Deokaran was shot and killed multiple times outside her Winchester Hills house in what is believed to have been an orchestrated hit.

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Deokaran had just dropped off her child at school and was returning home with a female friend when she was shot and killed.

At the time of her death, Deokaran, a chief director: financial accounting head, was one of the key witnesses of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into more than R300 million personal protective equipment (PPE) tender fraud in Gauteng Health.

Hadebe, during his bail application, made shocking and explosive claims that police tortured him and forced him to implicate the former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in the murder of Deokaran. Denying that he willingly made a confession to the police, Hadebe through his legal counsel Peter Wilkins said “he did not know minister Mkhize, he has no knowledge of him and he denies that he ever received such an instruction”.

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“He says that as a result of the continued torture he eventually made a statement that claimed he was indeed instructed by minister Mkhize even though he did not know him.”

But the State was adamant that all the accused failed to produce exceptional circumstances which should warrant their release on bail.

Magistrate Sibanyoni made it clear that he was not yet ready to pass judgment as he has to go through all the evidence before him to make an informed decision on the bail fate of the accused.

The case was postponed until December 20 for a verdict.

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Political Bureau

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