Sun, 16 Dec 2018
18
Johannesburg

Emotions and tempers flared outside the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court following the release of a man accused of killing a patient at a drug rehabilitation centre.

Relatives of Muhammed Shaik, 40, burst into tears under a tree outside the court building and could be seen consoling each other.

Magistrate Ronald Rickets granted 37-year-old Mohammed Khan bail of R5 000, with strict conditions attached.

Rickets ordered the applicant to report to the Estcourt police station in KwaZulu-Natal every Friday between 08:00 and 18:00.

The accused was also ordered not to directly or indirectly interfere with the State's witnesses.

Khan is expected back in court on December 7.

Khan is also expected to appear in the Johannesburg Regional Court tomorrow on a separate charge of attempted murder. He was out on bail when he was arrested for Shaik's murder.

Shaik died at Lenmed Private Hospital on October 14, after his family switched off his life support machine.

He was transferred to the private hospital after spending 14 days in the intensive care unit at Leratong Hospital, following his admission there on September 30.

Beaten to a pulp

Shaik was admitted to the government hospital two days after he was severely assaulted, allegedly by Khan and two other men, at the Magaliesburg Crescent for Hope Drug Rehabilitation Centre, west of Johannesburg.

He had been admitted for drug rehabilitation on September 28. The following day he was allegedly assaulted by the accused and two others with fists and a baseball bat.

He spent the day at the centre unconscious and handcuffed. Shaik was taken to Leratong Hospital the following day.

Shaik's family said he had suffered severe injuries to his body and had bruises all over.

Investigating officer Sergeant Helms Simali pleaded with the court not to grant Khan bail, because he was a flight risk and had an outstanding criminal matter.

Simali said chances were high that, should Khan be granted bail, he would meet with the two wanted men who had fled to Durban and Cape Town, and both would evade trial.

"The accused, who was also a patient at the centre, was among the suspects who assaulted the deceased. He has a serious pending case against him where a firearm was used, and he might abscond his trial if released. We have a strong case against him, and there is a likelihood he will interfere with our investigations," he said.

Simali said there were three eyewitnesses who had seen what happened and they were known to the accused.

He told the court that Shaik was assaulted after he screamed, demanding that a supervisor open his door. He then grabbed the supervisor while armed with a broken bottle.

During the fracas, two patients at the centre, including Khan and the supervisor, had assaulted Shaik with fists. They left and returned 10 minutes later, armed with a baseball bat. It's alleged that all they beat Shaik with the baseball bat, exchanging it among themselves.

Watertight defence

Khan's lawyer, advocate Eric Mhlari, convinced the court that the State had a weak case against his client.

"The accused has a watertight defence against the State, which might result in him being acquitted. This is not a premeditated murder. It is a murder that occurred at a snap of the moment. My client was acting in self-defence against an unlawful attack on another person.

"The deceased was armed with a broken bottle. There is no likelihood that his release would undermine peace and security. There is no likelihood that his release will also jeopardise the proper function of the criminal justice system," said Mhlari.

He argued that Khan would plead not guilty during the trial and that he didn't kill the accused.

Mhlari said Khan would maintain during the trial that Shaik was killed by the two men who are on the run, and not him. He had only participated by preventing Shaik from attacking the supervisor.

Objection to bail

State prosecutor Patrick Nemaguvhuni pleaded with the court not to grant Khan bail and objected to him being placed under house arrest.

He said there were no exceptional circumstances for the court to grant him bail.

"I request the court to consider the manner in which it was committed. The deceased was brutally attacked. The attack was done by three people, versus a vulnerable person. The accused knows who the witnesses are and the outstanding suspects which are going to be apprehended anytime from today. Society needs confidence from our courts.

"We are not dealing with an assault case, we are dealing with murder. The public look into our courts to restore the criminal justice system and have confidence in them," said Nemaguvhuni.

Shaik's nephew, Ibrahim Khan, said they were demanding justice and were disheartened by the court's decision to grant Khan bail.

He said they would not stop in their quest to seek justice for his uncle's death.

"This is not the end. It will never end," he said.

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