Motata witness tells of threats

COMPLAINT: Metro police officer Paulina \nMashilela. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 13/10/08. © Sowetan.
COMPLAINT: Metro police officer Paulina \nMashilela. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 13/10/08. © Sowetan.

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Judge Nkola Motata's drunken driving case took a new turn yesterday when a state witness claimed threats had been made against her life.

"I have a complaint," said Metro police officer Paulina Mashilela. "I have a problem with testifying at this stage because I have been threatened with losing my job and spending many years in prison."

Mashilela told the Johannesburg magistrate's court that she had gone to a police station to make an affidavit and had informed her employers.

"I was also told that I am not fit to be a Metro police officer."

Mashilela handed in an affidavit to the court tabling the nature of the threats.

Pretoria chief magistrate Desmond Nair told the court later that it seemed as if the intimidation and threat came from the side of the prosecution.

The magistrate adjourned court and asked both counsels to meet him in the chief magistrate's chambers.

When the court resumed Nair said: "The contents of the affidavit and the concerns raised by the witness are a cause for concern to the court and have to be taken seriously."

Nair said that he "deemed it necessary" for Johannesburg director of public prosecutions Charin de Beer to come to court to discuss the allegations.

He postponed the case.

Motata is on trial for drunken driving and defeating the ends of justice.

He allegedly reversed his state vehicle into the wall of Richard Baird's Hurlingham, Johannesburg, home in January last year.