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'Racial fight' in court

By unknown | Sep 12, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

Government employees at the Phalaborwa magistrate's court have been left speechless by the apparent fight between the local magistrate and the state prosecutor.

Magistrate Helen Buitendag and prosecutor John Mangena are alleged to have been involved in a fight - with the former laying several charges against her learned colleague.

The charges by Buitendag against Mangena are threatened assault, intimidation as well as contempt of court.

Meanwhile, Mangena has laid a countercharge of crimen injuria against Buitendag.

Both the charges and countercharge were yesterday confirmed by Superintendent Masilo Selepe, police commissioner at the local police station.

The drama, which many believe is racially motivated, is said to have unfolded when Mangena was recently accused by Buitendag of employing tactics that delayed proceedings.

Buitendag allegedly told the police she went to court soon after the withdrawal of a case involving two Phalaborwa farmers accused of kidnapping and murdering Richard Mkhari - who was allegedly found 'hunting' on the farmer's piece of land.

Buitendag claims that after the withdrawal of the murder case, she was supposed to preside over another case, but was made to wait for a long period by Mangena who was speaking on his cellphone.

In his version, Mangena said he was on the phone busy talking to the deputy provincial police commissioner who had called him to enquire about the withdrawal of the earlier case.

"When I went back to the court gallery, Buitendag attacked me with all sorts of insults in full view of everyone in court.

"She said to me: 'Sit down, you stupid.'

"People who were in the gallery hid their heads between the thighs while others shook their heads with shock," said Mangena.

The ensuing pandemonium, according to Mangena, further delayed proceedings.

According to Mangena, Buitendag became angry after he denied her a chance to preside on the Mkhari case.

"She asked me to bring the case to her court, but I refused adding that I was instructed by the Director of Prosecutions in Pretoria to prosecute on the case.

Mangena had already asked another black magistrate to preside on the case.

"She became angry because a black man was going to free a white man instead of vice versa."

Sowetan has learned on good authority that soon after the charges against him were pressed, Mangena asked for a transfer and he is relieving in Mhala magistrate's court in Mpumalanga.

Pressed for comment, Buitendag confirmed the charges but said she could not say much as the matter was still sub judice.

Provincial chief prosecutor for Limpopo Advocate Nelson Rapetsoa also confirmed the charges.

Rapetsoa said that the matter has been forwarded to the Directorate of Prosecutions for a decision.


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