2007-06-28 : 'Emotions high' in Mbeki bodyguard's fracas

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2007-06-28 : 'Emotions high' in Mbeki bodyguard's fracas

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2007-07-03 11:52


'Emotions high' in Mbeki bodyguard's fracas

June 28 2007 at 04:22AM

By Karen Breytenbach

One of President Thabo Mbeki's bodyguards, on trial for the murder of a 20-year-old man during an argument at an Eerste River shebeen a week ago which involved a presidential clerk, has been granted R1 000 bail under strict conditions in the Blue Downs magistrate's court.

Timothy Sabata, 35, a police sergeant in the Presidential Protection Services Unit in Cape Town, is not allowed to visit the Relax Tavern in Eerste River, enter the Eerste River area at all or contact witnesses.

Magistrate Chris van Schalkwyk also warned Sabata that he could not go abroad, but would be permitted to travel in South Africa.

He said Sabata was a danger to the public and the witnesses

Sabata's attorney, Anwer Titus, had asked for him to be released on bail because he supported three children and was paying off a house.

But prosecutor Denzil Combrink argued against bail. He said Sabata was a danger to the public and the witnesses.

Sabata was arrested at the tavern on June 17, shortly after Reginald Mofela was fatally shot in the back.

A young woman, Ncebakazi Booi, sustained a gunshot wound to her arm in the incident.

Andile Ntswana from the Independent Complaints Directorate, the chief investigator in the case, said witnesses had made statements about Mofela and Sabata arguing outside the shebeen's toilet after "the accused was mistakenly pushed".

"An argument started, and the accused was joined by a lady.

"They all went outside the tavern. The lady was screaming (at Mofela): 'Do you know who this man is?'

"The argument was started by the lady," said Ntswana.

The woman, who is a clerk in the president's office, allegedly took Sabata's gun, cocked it and pointed it at Mofela.

When "emotions ran high", Sabata allegedly took the gun from her and fired three shots in Mofela's direction, killing him and injuring Booi.

Granting Sabata bail, Van Schalkwyk said it was likely that the postmortem and ballistics reports would not be completed within the next five months, due to state backlogs, and it would be unfair to keep Sabata locked up for so long while awaiting trial.

A previous conviction in 1997 of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm and firing a gun in public, under the influence of alcohol, did not prove that Sabata had a propensity for violence, he said.

"He has walked a clean path for 10 years," the magistrate added.

The case was postponed to August 23 for further investigation.

This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Times on June 28, 2007
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