Accused cop killer in impassioned bail bid

Murder of Dwane Kemp no different from any other, defence argues

Dwane Kemp, right, died after he was shot when he responded to an armed robbery in Central 21 January 2019
Dwane Kemp, right, died after he was shot when he responded to an armed robbery in Central 21 January 2019
Image: Dwane Kemp / Facebook

Port Elizabeth constable Dwane Kemp’s alleged killer should not be treated any differently just because the victim was a policeman, a bail hearing was told on Thursday.

Defence attorney Zolile Ngqeza said the magistrate should not be swayed by the hype created in the media and that the murder of a policeman was as serious as the murder of anyone else.

The accused was applying for bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.

Kemp, a member of the Port Elizabeth Flying Squad, died in hospital after being wounded in a shootout at Le Bon Bakery in Central in January.

Four of the suspected robbers were killed, including the cousin of the 24-year-old man now before court. Another policeman was wounded.

Ngqeza said if the matter had to proceed to trial with the current evidence before court, it was likely his client would be acquitted.

The suspect – who cannot be named until magistrate Xolile Dlulisa lifts an order barring the media from revealing his identity – was later fingered during a formal identity parade as the man who had tied up bakery patrons and employees with cable ties.

The firearm found by police at the bloodied scene was traced back to the young man’s father, who had prior to the incident reported it as stolen to Algoa Park police.

The father had told police at the time that he suspected his son had stolen the gun.

Furthermore, the tracker on the vehicle that the accused used on a day-to-day basis was traced to the bakery at the time of the robbery.

But Ngqeza insisted all of this could be challenged in a trial court and the accused’s father or his cousin – who was found dead at the scene – could have used the vehicle in the commission of the offence.

Prosecutor Melanie Hammett countered that the man’s father had been at work at the time of the robbery and the cousin had been shot dead.

“So then how did the car get back to the house?”

The accused was living with his father – now a prosecution witness – in Algoa Park.

Hammett said it was not just the murder of Kemp that was at issue.

The accused was also being charged with a further four counts of murder in respect of the other dead suspects.

Ngqeza, meanwhile, said the identity parade had taken place a full month after his client’s arrest and he had appeared in an open court numerous times before that.

Despite the media not releasing the man’s photograph or name, it was entirely possible an eye-witness had seen the accused in court, he said.

He said that the accused’s facial features could not be identified via the bakery’s CCTV footage and that the police had relied on the fact that clothing – a black cap and Nike sneakers – similar to what was worn by one of the assailants was found in the man’s home.

“Nike shoes with a white sole are very common.

“A black cap is even more common. I have one, does that mean I was at the bakery?

“Perhaps even the court has a black cap,” Ngqeza said, prompting Dlulisa to quip: “I wasn’t there either.”

Ngqeza’s further impassioned plea prompted Dlulisa to say he should consider becoming a pastor and that he would be very good at it.

Amid laughter in the gallery, Dlulisa said he was, in fact, very impressed with this portion of Ngqeza’s argument.

Ngqeza was not as impressed with Dlulisa’s remarks.

“If you had told me I was a good attorney, that would have been a different scenario.

“I take issue with your comment,” he said.

Dlulisa will give his ruling on Tuesday.

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