Deokaran murder: Defence lawyers say they struggle to consult with the accused

Six men charged with Babita Deokaran's murder made a brief court appearance in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Monday with their case postponed to 1 and 5 October.

The six men accused of the murder of Gauteng Health Department official, Babita Deokaran, appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on 30 August 2021. The charges against a seventh suspect were provisionally withdrawn. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The defence in the murder case of senior Gauteng health department official Babita Deokaran has requested more time to consult their clients, citing difficulties at the Joburg Prison.

Six men charged with her murder made a brief court appearance in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Monday with their case postponed to 1 and 5 October.

The whistleblower was shot dead outside her home in Winchester Hills, southern Joburg, in August.

It’s believed she was shot dead because she was a key witness in a multi-million rand personal protective equipment tender scandal.

Technical glitches at the Johannesburg Magistrates Court and a lack of consultation with the accused were the main reasons why the defence team requested a postponement.

It was brought to the court's attention that COVID-19 protocols were making it difficult for the lawyers to consult with their clients.

“It is extremely difficult to obtain proper instructions, especially through interpreters that we are utilising and the result is that we wait two days, effectively, to consult since the last time,” defence lawyer Shafique Sarlie said.

The suspects face several charges including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of firearm and ammunition according to the NPA’s Phindi Mjonondwana.

The bail application has now been set for next month while police continue with the investigations.

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