Ex-Sydenham cops sentenced for kidnapping
Captain Manivel Murugen and Warrant Officer Raj Sewraj were convicted in September for extorting R15 900 from Thabani Master Makhaza and his wife, Siphosethu Ndzobe, of Sydenham, on November 12, 2014.
The couple said they were taken from their home that evening by Murugen, Sewraj and police reservist Nizamuddin Ismail. They laid charges against the officers the night after their kidnapping.
They were threatened with arrest for theft, under false pretences.
Ndzobe was also told to keep quiet or they would be killed.
According to the State’s evidence, the couple were driven from their home in the back of a police van.
Ndzobe was dropped off at the police station, where she was kept in a cell for hours.
Makhaza, a motivational speaker, had already given the police officers R10000 that he had with him, which he had planned to use to pay for a venue where he was having an event.
However, the officers wanted more money and drove him to an ATM in Overport to withdraw cash.
Makhaza was only able to withdraw R2 900 because he had a daily withdrawal limit of R3000 and had already withdrawn R100 earlier in the day.
He was kept in the vehicle until after midnight when the policemen made him withdraw R3 000 more.
They then dropped him off at the roadside to find his own way home.
On the way, he met police from another unit who assisted him, and he opened a case against the police officers in the early hours.
The trauma they had gone through that night had destroyed their lives and businesses, said Ndzobe.
She said she was paralysed by fear and under stress.
Video footage showing the officers and Makhaza withdrawing money in Overport corroborated his evidence.
The police officers testified they had been helping Ismail get back money owed to him by the couple.
However, Ismail denied the couple owed him money and said he had had no dealings with them.
Ismail said he had accompanied Murugen and Sewraj as official police officers and had acted on their instructions.
Magistrate Nannette Otto accepted Ismail’s version and rejected the evidence of Murugen and Sewraj. She acquitted Ismail of all charges.
She also rejected the evidence of the officers that the couple had agreed to accompany them to the police station, where a detective was to help resolve the matter.
She questioned why the couple would agree to be transported in the back of the police van when they had their own vehicle in their yard.
Murugen and Sewraj were granted leave to appeal against their convictions and sentences.
Their bail was extended pending the outcome of the appeal.