Magistrate sues minister of police
The senior magistrate who was the first to drop murder charges against Bushbuckridge executive mayor Milton Morema and his two co-accused in May last year is suing Minister of Safety and Security Nathi Mthethwa and the UDM for R600000.
Magistrate George Risimati has already given instructions to his lawyers, Mushwana and Associates, to issue summons.
Although Risimati was at first reluctant to speak to Sowetan about the lawsuit, he subsequently confirmed that he was suing for defamation.
He is suing Mthethwa after a number of policemen submitted affidavits to the Director of Public Prosecutions alleging that he "misrepresented facts" when he withdrew the charges in May last year.
"You presided over a matter, listened attentively to the evidence and submissions before coming to a ruling, but suddenly someone decides you have taken sides," Risimati said yesterday .
Risimati has accused the UDM of criticising him on at least two radio stations, Munghana Lonene FM and Thobela FM, saying he was in cahoots with the "criminals".
Mushwana and Associates confirmed yesterday that they were representing Risimati in the lawsuit.
Police arrested Morema, Luckios Mosoma and Erasmus Makhubele in Acornhoek on April 10 last year and then took them to Nelspruit - about 200km away.
They were made to appear in the Nelspruit magistrate's court for bail application the following day, but a magistrate refused to preside over the matter - saying its jurisdiction was in Acornhoek. He ordered that they be taken there.
Since it was a Friday, the three accused had to spend the weekend behind bars while waiting to appear in the Acornhoek magistrate's court the following Monday.
The police, however, undermined the court order and took the three men to Bushbuckridge magistrate's court where Risimati reiterated that the men should appear in the Acornhoek magistrate's court the following day.
Risimati, however, partially heard the bail application and continued with it at Acornhoek the following day where he granted the men R10000 bail each.
They paid the bail.
Risimati withdrew the charges on their following court appearance on the basis that they were "politically motivated".
"Politicians must stop using the court as their political battlefields," Risimati said at the time.
The charges were later reinstated, and the Pretoria high court dismissed them.
But the police later reinstated them - only for the Nelspruit sitting of the high court to withdraw them again recently.
"The latest decision by the high court in Nelspruit has actually confirmed my own decision," said Risimati.
The three men were accused of killing an alleged hitman, Jeffrey Sedibe, in 2003.