The three Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers who allegedly shot and killed journalist Godknows Nare were granted bail of R5000 by the Roodeport Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
“They are facing very serious charges..the central question is whether the accused will appear for trial and whether it’s in the interest of justice…there is no evidence that the three applicants are flight risk and if released on bail it will endanger the public,” Magistrate John Baloyi said.
Their bail conditions include appearing at the police stations closest to their residences every Monday and Friday; not contacting witnesses; and not leaving the province without notifying the investigating officer.
Baloyi emphasised that the colleagues of the accused had to refrain from intimidating and interfering with the case.
The three officers Nhlanhla Vilakazi, 29, Lincon Moloyi, 35, and Thozamile Mhlanga, 37, are accused of staging a crime scene after they shot and killed Nare in Florida in 2017. This information was discovered after an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) investigation.
Prosecutor Jacob Serepo said the charges the trio were facing were murder, assault to cause grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice. This makes it a schedule five matter because there was no premeditation in the murder.
“They will have to prove that it’s in the interest of justice to release them on bail.”
Nare had done work with news channel eNCA, investigative programme Special Assignment as well as British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
“Facts are that deceased was a journalist and was killed in Florida while visiting a flat while he was in the drivers seat of his vehicle. The accused were JMPD on duty, there was a vehicle that was hijacked and they assumed the deseased was involved in the hijacking however he was not involved,” Serepo told the court.
“He was not armed, according to the statements the accused fired nine shots and he was shot from the back.”
Serepo said they were not opposing bail but there had to be strict conditions placed.
Defence Hlakudi Mpe read the bail affidavit of the three officers who said they did not have travel documents and that they only had family in South Africa.
Vilakazi said he worked as a JMPD officer for the past nine years. He said he had two children and wife.
Moloyi’s affidavit said he had been a JMPD officer for nine years. He added that he had one child and a wife.
Mhlanga said in his affidavit that he also did not have travelling documents nor family and friends out of the country. He said he had a wife and four children. He mentioned that he would only be able to pay R1100 bail.
Vilakazi and Moloyi said they could afford R2000 bail and all three said they would be pleading not guilty.
The investigating officer, Bongani Khumalo, said through an affidavit that there was no reason to believe that the trio would evade bail.
Nare’s family members were emotional about seeing the murderers of their relative and being in the presence of JMPD officers who were were in support of their colleagues.
The matter has been transferred to the high court for pre-trial on February 9.
– African News Agency (ANA)