Former policeman released on bail after ‘new evidence’

Former police constable Walter Francis has been released on R2,000 bail. File photo
Former police constable Walter Francis has been released on R2,000 bail. File photo
Image: Thinkstock

A former police constable charged with the murder of a state witness was granted bail of R2,000 by the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Magistrate Morne Cannon found that the accused, Walter Francis, 33, had proven that there were new facts which allowed for his release on bail.

Francis is charged with Wayne Wabanie, 25, and Shamiel Gallant, 20, for the murder of state witness Alex Nico Ferreira, 28, of Bloemendal in February last year.

Francis was arrested in December while on duty at Humewood police station.

He is already standing trial in the Port Elizabeth High Court for the murder of Denton Rademeyer, 32, who was gunned down in Bethelsdorp in 2014.

It is alleged Francis’s service firearm was used in that murder.

Ferreira was a witness to the shooting of Rademeyer and was to testify against Francis and his co-accused Enzo Kroates, 22, and Clement Kogana, 29.

That case will proceed in the high court on Tuesday.

Francis was previously denied bail in the Ferreira case after magistrate Sanjani Naidu found he had not proved exceptional circumstances to be released from custody.

Francis’s legal representative, Terry Price, told the court yesterday that the main factor for the renewed bail application was the fact that the state had a weak case against his client.

Price told the court that the statement by investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Neville Gouws was poor and that a witness statement contained in the docket was vague and unsupported.

“Detective Warrant Officer Neville Gouws misled the court during the first bail application,” Price said.

It is alleged that Francis drove Wabanie and Gallant to the spot where Ferreira was killed and then drove them away from the scene afterwards.

Price said the only evidence in Gouws’s statement linking Francis to the murder of Ferreira was that of an eyewitness, referred to only as “WF1”, who claimed to have seen Francis take Wabanie and Gallant to the spot where Ferreira was shot.

“[Gouws’s] evidence is only true to the extent that I gave two persons a lift and that I dropped them off at a certain place, but there is absolutely no evidence that I knew that these people were going to be killing anyone, or that they were armed – this seems to be a thumb-suck or at best for the state a seriously doubtful inference,” Price read from Francis’s affidavit to the court.

Price said Francis had not been given the opportunity to view the police docket prior to his first bail application, which further constituted new facts and should be considered by the court.

Prosecutor Jason Thysse said the state maintained it had a strong case.

“The witness whose details have been omitted [in his statement and is referred to as WF1] identified [Francis as the driver of the car] in a photo parade,” he said.

Thysse said the eyewitness stated in his affidavit that when he asked Francis what his co-accused were doing he said they were “going to work a number”, which the witness said was slang for commit a murder.

In his ruling, Cannon said the evidence led by Price in yesterday’s bail application was in fact new evidence, “which warrants the release [of Francis] on bail”.