It was a hotly contested bail application in the Durban Magistrate‘s Court as Philani Ntuli, the man accused of murdering Durban North sex worker Siam Lee, set out to prove that he should be released from custody.
Lee went missing early in January and was eventually found in a cane field in New Hanover.
Investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Rajan Govender, appeared to stand firm for the duration of his testimony in the gruelling two-month bail hearing.
However, flaws in the early stages of the investigation, when he wasn‘t involved yet, appeared to plague him.
Govender is the second investigating officer in the matter and defence lawyer Martin Krog grilled him on Friday on “what difference it would make if Ntuli should remain bars”.
Give him bail, he cannot interfere
Krog was adamant in his argument that Ntuli could not interfere with the case. He said Ntuli had been behind bars for four months while authorities scrutinised his home and business dealings.
But Govender disagreed and said Ntuli contravened a protection order earlier this year, which his ex-fiancé Lucky Mthembu had obtained. He said this was evidence of a propensity to interfere with the case.
Mthembu obtained the order following an alleged altercation with Ntuli in which he has been accused of strangling and kicking her during their relationship. Mthembu has had attempted murder and intimidation charges laid against Ntuli.
Govender said that Ntuli had harassed Mthembu, following the issuing of the protection order, when he mischievously ordered a pizza on her behalf at Debonairs to obtain her address.
She had moved, fearing for her safety. Mthembu allegedly received a message from the pizza outlet saying she had ordered a pizza, the court heard.
“When she went to the restaurant, they played her a recording of the person ordering and she says it was [Ntuli‘s] voice,” said Govender.
But Krog countered, saying that Ntuli may have obtained her address, but he did not contravene the protection order because he did not her.
“He didn‘t her in any way. He allegedly obtained her details, but he did nothing with it. I wish you would see my point. He did nothing to her. He would not interfere with the law,” he said.
Govender stood resolute, saying Ntuli still attempted to obtain her address. He added that, if Ntuli was granted bail he could possibly destroy evidence that police had not yet found.
Krog maintained Ntuli could not interfere with the investigation if he was released because police had intricately delved into his life.
“Your investigation will not change by keeping him in custody longer, what do you think will happen? He has been in prison for four months. You have had time to get whatever you wanted.”
Krog added that Ntuli would be happy to stay away from Durban and live in Pietermaritzburg.
The matter has been postponed to June 8 for re-examination and closing arguments.