MEC wants probe after docket disappears

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

A Mpumalanga public prosecutor might find himself in hot water for alleged corruption.

This follows a call by safety and security MEC Fish Mahlalela for an urgent investigation into the withdrawal of charges against 13 reserve policemen accused of corruption.

Charges against the accused were struck off the roll in the Komatipoort magistrate's court on Monday last week after the prosecutor, Abraham Mohlabe, failed to produce their charge sheet.

The 13 had been arrested after they allegedly helped 26 illegal immigrants cross back into South Africa minutes after they had been deported back to Mozambique about two weeks ago.

Mpumalanga police spokesman for the organised crime unit Captain Leonard Hlathi said the immigrants had been transported from Lindelani holding facilities in Gauteng in a bus that drove through the Lebombo border gate into Mozambique to deliver them.

"The reservists were the only people who were supposed to be passengers in the bus when it crossed back into South Africa, but our eagle-eyed police officers decided to check the bus," Hlathi said.

"They found the immigrants hiding under the seats."

Further police investigations revealed that the police reservists had allegedly received bribes in the form of cash and cell phones to hide the immigrants.

They were immediately arrested and appeared before the Low's Creek magistrate's court on March 20, where they were released on their own recognisances pending their next court appearance last Tuesday.

This was when the magistrate struck the case off the roll. And when Mahlalela heard this he went ballistic.

"Incidents like these are setting back the efforts of the department to improve relations between the community and the police," Mahlalela said.

"It also dampens the spirits of hard-working police officials who work tirelessly in a bid to restore calm and stability among residents of the province in reducing crime."