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'Bias' judge ruling today

By unknown | Feb 12, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

Johannesburg high court's Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng is expected to hand down his ruling today on whether he will continue with the Jeppestown massacre trial.

Eleven of the 13 people accused of the killing of four police officers during the Jeppestown siege are demanding that Mokgoatlheng recuse himself.

They state "reasonable apprehension of bias" in his handling of the case in their application.

Several reasons for wanting the judge to step down were presented by the defence team in court yesterday. They included comments that Judge Mokgoatlheng made in court last week, which the defence thought were insensitive and showed bias.

Representing one of the accused, Sizwe Dlamini, 21, Advocate Steven Nkosi recalled the judge's comment when Dlamini complained about being sick. The comment was "Who is going to be sick next week, speak now so I can have a doctor on standby".

Another comment that the defence team claimed showed bias was one that Judge Mokgoatlheng made when the 11 accused complained that they were being denied food.

He said: "If you have been denied food for three weeks, why are you still alive? You should be dead by now."

But, Judge Mokgoatlheng insisted that his words were taken out of context.

He said he had made the comments as jokes and at some point had even told the court that they should not take what he said, at that time, seriously.

"I'm a humorous person, I crack jokes all the time," he said


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