The year’s top court case headliners
A FORMER police chief, a British honeymooner, a taxi driver and a toilet saga – all are among the major court cases that made headlines during 2011.
Disgraced former police chief Jackie Selebi spent his first night in prison this month after his appeal against his 15-year sentence for corruption failed. Selebi has been in ill health since his incarceration and this week Correctional Services said he was undergoing dialysis for kidney complications arising from diabetes.
In Cape Town, the trial of Thandi Maqubela and her co-accused, Vela Mabena, kicked off. They are accused of murdering Maqubela’s husband, Judge Patrick Maqubela.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s testimony shocked the court on day three as he told how Thandi approached him, claiming her husband was a sex addict and was cheating on her.
The case has been postponed until next year, when investigating officer Jo Dryden, who died recently in a car accident, was due to have testified.
Shrien Dewani, accused of paying to have his wife Anni murdered while on honeymoon in Cape Town, was told by a British court earlier this year that he would return to SA to stand trial. His appeal was heard this month, with the outcome expected next month.
Sheryl Cwele, wife of Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele, was found guilty of recruiting South Coast mother of two Tessa Beetge to act as a drug mule and bring cocaine into the country from Brazil. She and co-accused, Nigerian Frank Nabolisa, were sentenced to 12 years in prison in May.
Cwele is appealing her sentence, and her husband recently ended their marriage. She also got the boot in October from the Hibiscus Coast Municipality in Kwazulu- Natal, where she was working.
Also in KZN, the man known as the Facebook rapist, Thabo Bester, pleaded guilty to raping and robbing two models he lured, using promises of a modelling career, via social networking sites. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He is also appearing in court in Alberton in Johannesburg and in Cape Town on charges of kidnapping and murder respectively.
On December 12 Jacob Humphreys, the driver of the taxi in which 10 children were killed when he jumped the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath in August last year, was found guilty of 10 counts of murder and four of attempted murder. He has appealed the verdict. Judge Robert Henney revoked his R20 000 bail and it looked as if Humphreys would spend Christmas in jail. However, his bail was reinstated days before the holidays. It will lapse again on January 30. In the Western Cape High Court in April, Judge Nathan Erasmus ordered the city to enclose 1 316 open toilets in Khayelitsha. The toilets in three areas, including Makhaza, were left unenclosed by the city, which said local residents had agreed to enclose them themselves. The city has since embarked on the process of enclosing the toilets.
The trial of siblings Nicolette and Hardus Lotter, and their co-accused Mathew Naidoo, got under way in the Durban High Court in March, three years after the three allegedly murdered the Lotters’ parents, Johan and Riekie, in their Westville home.
The trial gripped the country’s imagination with tales of witchcraft and claims by the siblings that they had murdered their parents under the influence of Naidoo, who had told them he was the “third son of God”.
However, proceedings stalled and only resumed in October. Court is now in recess, and the final phase will restart in March next year.
Last week, charges of drunk driving were withdrawn against presidential adviser Zizi Kodwa after his blood alcohol test showed that he had not been drinking when he was arrested about 2am on November 11.
Kodwa pleaded his innocence, but two constables ordered him to follow them to a station in his own car for a blood test. Kodwa is now suing the police for R5 million for wrongful arrest.
Additional reporting by the Sunday Tribune.
JACKIE SELEBI: Jailed for corruption, he is now having kidney dialysis.
CO-ACCUSED: Nicolette Lotter
FACEBOOK: Thomas Bester