South Africa

SEE | 6 suspects in dock for whistle-blower Babita Deokaran's murder

SEE | 6 suspects in dock for whistle-blower Babita Deokaran's murder

A lack of consultation time between lawyers and six men accused of murdering Gauteng health department whistle-blower Babita Deokaran led to the postponement of their bail application on Monday.

Phakamani Hadebe, Zita Hadebe, Nhlangano Ndlovu, Sanele Mbele, Siphiwe Mazibuko and Phakanyiswa Dladla appeared briefly in a packed courtroom 14 in the Johannesburg magistrate's court. They are accused of murdering Deokaran outside her home, south of Johannesburg, last month.

Their lawyer, Shafique Sarlie, argued before magistrate Simon Sibanyoni that he had only been able to consult twice with his clients since their first court appearance last month.

“The correctional services department only allows consultations between lawyers and their clients on a Friday and then only between 10am and 2pm, with consultations usually starting an hour late,” he said.

“The consultations are done through bulletproof glass via intercoms. Using interpreters under these circumstances is incredibly difficult.”

Sibanyoni postponed the bail application until October 1 and October 5.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the state was prepared for the bail application. “This postponement is not a problem for us. It will give us time for any extra work that needs to be done.”

At the time of Deokaran's death, she was working within the department’s financial office and was a witness in a Special Investigating Unit’s probe into R332.5m worth of alleged Covid-19 PPE tender procurement irregularities.

Placard-waving protesters from the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and ActionSA  protested outside the courthouse calling for bail to be denied.