Baffling legal battles await judiciary
Sordid tales of sex, lies and the mysteries of municipal procurement scheduled to be heard in Mandela Bay courts
From applications for leave to appeal against a judge’s decisions to questioning the competence of state witnesses.
These are some of legal wrangles that paused several of the high-profile court cases in Port Elizabeth in 2018.
With the end of the year drawing near, Weekend Post looks at some of the big court stories expected to dominate the news in 2019.
Two separate cases involving alleged perlemoen poaching kingpins are set to start in February when their cases are expected to come to an end.
Convicted perlemoen poacher and racketeering bigwig Morne Blignault, 46, already serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted on charges of racketeering and contravening the Marine Living Resources Act, is expected back in the Port Elizabeth High Court for sentencing proceedings in a different matter on similar charges.
Blignault, along with his son Morne Jr, 26, Jacob “Japie” Naumann, 35, Jan “Danie” Prinsloo, 31 and Paul Bezuidenhout, 22, pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.
Another alleged perlemoen poacher and racketeering accused, Julian Brown, is also expected to have his day in court when judgment is handed down on February 4.
Brown, 32, Eugene “Bosman” Victor, 33, and Brandon Turner, 38, face a string of charges, including the illegal poaching of perlemoen, racketeering and money laundering.
All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Alleged hit on wife
Judges, prosecutors and defence advocates will be back in full swing on January 24 for closing arguments in the trial of former police officer Mlungisi Tsitsi and his co-accused charged with the alleged hit on Tsitsi’s estranged wife, Nomathamsanqa Ivy Mtwesi, 36.
Tsitsi, 37, Luyanda Nyumka, 38, Sicelo Mbanga, 31, Thembani Rorwana, 34, Ndiphe Soqokomashe, 48 and Msindisi Bhebhula, 27, have all been charged with the murder, conspiracy to commit murder and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
They have all pleaded not guilty.
Mtwesi was shot dead outside her home onNovember 12 2015 shortly after arriving home from work.
Jewellery heist killing
Four men standing trial for a July 2016 jewellery store heist which led to the killing of an innocent man will be back in the dock of the Port Elizabeth High Court on January 29.
Lindokuhle January, 21, Olwethu Dlanga, 21, Awonke Yako, 20 and Lonwabo Maweni, 42, have been charged with the brazen armed robbery at Fischer’s Jewellers at Greenacres and the murder of Ronald Goduka, 67 who was shot dead when two of the accused attempted to hijack his white Mitsubishi Colt bakkie.
All the men pleaded not guilty to the 12 charges against them.
Omotoso trial continues
The rape trial of controversial Nigerian Pastor Timothy Omotoso, which began in October, has been set down to continue on February 4.
Omotoso, 60, and his co-accused, Zukiswa Sitho, 28 and Lusanda Sulani, 36, have been in and out of the Port Elizabeth High Court since their defence team brought the trial to a halt with applications for the presiding officer, judge Mandela Makula, to recuse himself and for the 97 charges against them to be quashed.
Following Makaula’s dismissal of the applications for leave to appeal his decisions, to recuse himself or to quash the charges, Omotoso’s legal team petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal. On December 10 the appeal court dismissed the two applications.
The multimillion-rand fraud case against former EP Rugby boss Cheeky Watson, ex-director of transport company Laphum’ilanga Mandisa Mkasa, businesswoman Andrea Wessels and her events company Zeranza, ex-CEO of Access Management Stephan Pretorius and former assistant director in the metro’s finance department Nadia Gerwel hit a snag during court proceedings when the case was postponed for almost eight months.
The postponement follows the defence advocate for Gerwel, Mkasa and Wessels, Terry Price SC, questioning the competence of state witness and suspended city manager Johan Mettler.
They face 44 charges among them, including money laundering and fraud. They have all pleaded not guilty.
The matter was postponed to August 5 for the court to hear whether or not Mettler would be a competent witness.
The full trial is expected to resume on September 16.