The High Court in Pretoria has shot down a last-minute bid by former North West deputy police commissioner Jan Mabula and seven former colleagues, to avoid appearing in the dock next week to answer to allegations of torture.
But their attorney, Piet du Plessis, said on Wednesday it was not the end of the road. He said his clients respected the court process and would appear as scheduled. But he said they would continue challenging the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to prosecute them.
Du Plessis pointed out an application to review the decision was already before the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi. “And if the NDPP does not agree to withdraw the matter, then we will approach the high court with an application to set aside the prosecution and stay the prosecution permanently.”
Mabula and seven others were initially scheduled to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court last month for charges – which they have vehemently denied – relating to their alleged use of apartheid-era interrogation on three suspects implicated in a multimillion-rand heist at the Benoni police station in 2006.
But the summonses were withdrawn by the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in Johannesburg, Advocate Andrew Chauke, after the accused indicated they wanted to try and review the decision to prosecute.
Batohi’s office eventually overruled Chauke and rescheduled the case for late November. The accused then turned to the court with an application to set aside the summons but this was dismissed for lack of urgency.
In the founding papers, they relied on an agreement reached with Chauke in 2018 to put the case on ice until they had exhausted all their review options.
But deputy NDPP Advocate Rodney de Kock in the answering papers had said Chauke had “exceeded his powers” and that a prosecution could only be withdrawn on compelling grounds.
“The applicants’ preference of not appearing at court until having exhausted all preliminary litigation does not meet the requirement of compelling grounds,” he said.