State failed to properly disclose docket in ‘blue lights’ case, ex-top cop Phahlane argues

Two accused in the multimillion-rand "blue lights" case want the court to investigate delays in completing proceedings. Stock photo.
Two accused in the multimillion-rand "blue lights" case want the court to investigate delays in completing proceedings. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/radututa

Former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane asked the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court on Thursday to strike his “blue lights” corruption and fraud case off the roll.

He said the state had failure to properly disclose the contents of the docket.

Phahlane and former deputy police commissioner Bonang Mgwenya launched separate applications before the court, to be heard on Thursday, asking it to investigate possible  “unreasonable” delays in completing proceeding.

The Criminal Procedure Act provides that if the court finds the completion of proceedings is being delayed unreasonably, it may, among others, issue an order — where the accused has not yet pleaded to the charge — that the case be struck off the roll.

Advocate Zweli Zakwe, for Phahlane, read an affidavit by Nadia Steyn, a candidate attorney assisting one of the law firm’s directors prepare for the trial to ensure proper disclosure had taken place.

In the affidavit, Steyn said the court, in December last year, ordered the state to properly disclose the contents of the case docket to all accused by February 28 this year.

Steyn said the law firm received a hard drive purportedly containing the contents of the dockets on that date, but accessing what the state had disclosed was a daunting and costly task.

The content on the hard drive was unorganised, unpaginated, unindexed, some portions were inaccessible and most information was clearly irrelevant.

She said the state had advised the defence to purchase costly computer programmes to access some parts of the hard drive.

“It will be submitted that the information [provided] amounts to no disclosure at all.”

However, the state contends that proper disclosure has been made. Prosecutor Tilas Chabalala told the court the state has disclosed everything it collected during investigations and provided it to the legal representatives of the accused.

Phahlane and Mgwenya are among 11 people and a company expected to answer charges of fraud, theft and obstructing or defeating the course of justice.

The charges relate to a multimillion-rand tender which Vimpie Manthata's company, Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement, was awarded to fit emergency lights to police vehicles.

The state alleges that during the procurement process, the accused ignored a competitive bidding process and committed the SAPS to financial exposure of R191m in favour of Manthata’s company in exchange for benefits received.

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