Prosecutor in drunk-driving case withdrawal drama
A SENIOR public prosecutor in KwaZulu-Natal who allegedly pretended to be a man after being arrested clocking 196km/h in an apparent drunken state has never been prosecuted.
Arrested in March 2013, the case against Empangeni chief prosecutor Gloria Philile Sibeko was quietly withdrawn from the court roll at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court in 2014.
Court documents do not say why the case was withdrawn by the prosecution, but days after her arrest on March 21, 2013, KwaZulu-Natal transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane told The Star’s sister paper, The Mercury: “While she must still be proven guilty, it is extremely disappointing for a person in her position to be arrested for these crimes.
“She is meant to lead by example as a custodian of the law. But this arrest shows that no one is above the law.”
The problem is that the case was never prosecuted, and on June 8, 2014, all charges were withdrawn by the prosecution without the matter ever having gone to trial.
The events of that night have raised eyebrows within the National Prosecuting Authority, the police in Tongaat, and members of the KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI).
Several sources in the police, the NPA and the RTI have recounted various versions of what happened that night.
There are a few small variations, but one point on which there was none was that the RTI officers and members of SAPS initially believed they had pulled over a man.
The allegation is that Sibeko, who is responsible for prosecution services in northern KwaZulu-Natal, flew through a speed trap near Ballito on the N2 in her BMW sedan in the direction of Durban. She failed to stop.
An RTI officer gave chase and stopped her near the offramp for King Shaka International Airport. The officer, noticing a glass in her car, asked if she had been drinking.
Asked why she was speeding, she reportedly said she had been fighting with her wife and was going through a divorce. She gave her name as Geoff Phillip Sibeko. She was then taken for a blood test at Tongaat Clinic and then to Tongaat police station.
So convinced were police that they were dealing with a man that, according to one version, Sibeko was thrown into the men’s cell.
Sibeko was then granted police bail and on the J398 form for police bail, the officer, a Captain Naidoo, had written her name as “Geff Philip Sibeco”.
According to that form (serial number A879030), in which Naidoo consulted with a Detective Warrant Officer R Govender, the charges listed on the J398 were exceeding the speed limit and driving while under the influence of alcohol.
It is not clear exactly when police became suspicious and at what stage they realised that Geoff was not Geoff, but rather Gloria.
According to the court records, Sibeko faced a charge of driving under the influence of liquor, reckless and negligent driving, speeding and defeating the administration of justice because she “furnish (sic) false names to the traffic officials and / or police officials”.
Sibeko continues to work as the chief prosecutor in Empangeni, responsible for the NPA’s prosecutions. – ANA