The policemen accused of murdering Tshwane father Mthokozisi Ntumba during Wits students protests have been granted bail.
Constable Tshepiso Kekana, sergeants Boitumelo Motseothata and Madimeja Legodi; and Warrant Officer Victor Nkosinathi Mohammed appeared in the Johannesburg Regional Court on Friday morning where they were granted bail of R8,000 each.
In handing down his ruling, magistrate Sipho Sibanyoni said while the state had argued the accused’s release on bail would result in a public outcry, no evidence to this effect had been adduced.
The magistrate pointed out that no community members, either the general public or the student community, had been called to give evidence in support of these statements.
“Statements made from the bar and without any back up, do not carry any weight. They do not amount to evidence,” Sibanyoni said.
Ntumba died after being shot with rubber bullets during student protests in the Braamfontein, Johannesburg city centre earlier this month. The 35-year-old civil servant found himself caught in the crossfire during running battles between police and students while he was leaving his doctor’s rooms.
Kekana, Motseothata, Legodi and Mohammed were arrested last week on charges of murder, attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.
During their bail application, heard on Wednesday, the state strongly opposed their release.
State prosecutor Nkosinathi Zuma read out affidavits deposed to by Independent Police Investigative Directorate investigating officer Judy Thwala highlighting the findings of the post mortem. It said Ntumba died of rubber bullet wounds to the chest. During the post mortem, a ballistics expert confirmed he was shot at a close range of around about 4 metres.
For their part, the accused have denied the allegations against them and indicated they intend pleading not guilty.
The case is due back in court in May.
In the meantime, the accused have been barred from interfering or having any direct or indirect contact with the state witnesses. They are also not allowed to apply for any travel documents until the matter has been finalised.