Magistrate wants Ngcuka in court

A former member of a precursor to the Scorpions unit has laid criminal charges against national prosecuting boss Bulelani Ngcuka and other former colleagues.

The charges were laid last Friday in Pietermaritzburg by Magistrate Ashin Singh, who had been seconded in June 1999 to work for the Investigative Directorate for Organised Crime in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the units later folded into the Scorpions. Singh has also instituted parallel civil proceedings for damages.

Singh’s action stems from a saga that included his dismissal from the unit in November 1999 and his subsequent unsuccessful prosecution by Ngcuka’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The NPA’s case against Singh was trashed by the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court in October this year when the court found there had been a violation of Singh’s constitutional rights.

NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema this week declined to comment.

At the heart of Singh’s 1999 dismissal was evidence which Singh at the time claimed had bearing on the Ndabezitha family massacre in Richmond. The massacre happened within hours of the killing of the United Democratic Movement leader Sifiso Nkabinde in 1999.

Eleven members of the Ndabezitha family aligned to the African National Congress were killed, apparently in revenge for Nkabinde’s assassination.

The Investigative Directorate for Organised Crime in KwaZulu-Natal, then headed by Chris MacAdam —now a senior NPA head office member — was tasked with investigating the Ndabezitha massacre. In November that year MacAdam’s unit arrested five people for the crime.

Singh then apparently approached MacAdam with information provided by a close associate of Nkabinde’s that the wrong people had been arrested. Two days later Singh was fired from the unit on the grounds that he had involved himself in a case that was not his. In 2000 the NPA followed up with criminal charges against Singh, including those of defeating the ends of justice. Ironically, that same year, the charges against the men who had been arrested for the Ndabezitha massacre were dropped. There were subsequently new arrests — the men Singh had fingered.

But Singh’s matter proceeded in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court. In October this year, the court granted a permanent stay of the proceedings on the grounds that the evidence against Singh had been obtained illegally — it turned out that MacAdam’s unit had not had the authority to conduct investigations.

Regional Magistrate Gert Botha said in his judgement: “There has been a gross violation of his [Singh’s] rights ... ... the accused could not possibly have received a fair trial.” Singh has laid criminal charges not only against Ngcuka, but also against MacAdam, NPA prosecutor “Billy” Downer, Clifford Marion, the unit’s then chief investigating officer in the province, and former head of the Scorpions Percy Sonn.

Transcripts of the trial reveal that MacAdam first denied drafting the charges against Singh, then admitted to formulating nine of the 12 counts. Downer, who was the prosecutor in Singh’s case (and who has also been involved in the Scorpions probe into Deputy President Jacob Zuma) had also denied in court that MacAdam had had a hand in drafting the charges. However, correspondence disclosed to the court revealed otherwise, and Singh has charged MacAdam with perjury.

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