Even on a balance of probabilities, it’s difficult to conclude that Pigg’s Peak Principal Magistrate Siphosini Dlamini could be a chicken thief as per the accusations and subsequent mob justice by the Nkomazi residents.
It is alleged that the Magistrate was stopped by the residents along the road on Wednesday night, and chicken feathers were subsequently found.
Perhaps, the decision to stop him was based on ‘reasonable’ suspicion that he was actually the thief who has been grabbing chicken within various homesteads in the area.
The police must approach or investigate this matter with an open mind, in line with the basic principles of criminal investigation.
One of the basic principles in criminal law, in the context of what happened to the Magistrate suggests that, “the accusers who allege” must prove beyond any reasonable that the accused committed the crime.
It should be noted that, considering the alleged mob justice and/or harassment, the residents assumed the powers of being prosecutors and Judges, therefore, the onus is now upon them to prove that, the Principal Magistrate committed the crime, which he is accused of and, whether the gravity of the accusations justifies what they did.
The accusers must first produce evidence amounting to reasonable suspicion that indeed,the judicial officer might have committed the crime hence the decision to stop him along the road.
But, even before we conduct further investigations and/or evidence analyses to ascertain whether it’s true or not that chicken feathers were found in the Magistrate’s car, there must be a ‘piece’ of evidence amounting to reasonable suspicion that could have influenced their decision to stop him, and violate his right to freedom of movement.
Now, the mob justice suggests that the residents might have concluded that, the Principal Magistrate was indeed the chicken thief and the allegations were based merely on chicken feathers found inside his car.
Worth-noting, in this matter, we have an obligation as the media to analyze fairly and strike the balance between ‘public interest” and the Principal Magistrate’s right to human dignity.
Even though it is in the public interest that, a whole Magistrate was stopped and assaulted along the road on suspicion that he was stealing chicken, it is very important to analyze and the approach the matter objectively.
One wonders who verified if the chicken feathers were actually ‘traces’ of the alleged disappeared chickens belonging to the residents.
Who analysed the evidence to ascertain if “it links Magistrate with the crime scene” and/or alternatively, was the Principal Magistrate found on a crime scene?.
Furthermore, after being stopped at night by the residents along the road, who was monitoring if other residents were not ‘planting’ chicken feathers inside the car while others were harassing the Magistrate who was on the driver’s seat?.
Well, in the absence of convincing evidence and, considering the fact that this is a Pigg’s Peak Magistrate who has been convicting dagga dealers, obviously, some who are residents of Nkomanzi,we have a valid reason to conclude that the judicial officer might have been targeted by his enemies who are ex-convicts.
In light of the aforementioned, the police are therefore legally obligated to investigate this matter objectively and with an open mind,in my view, those who assaulted the Magistrate must account before the law.
Magistrate Siphosini Dlamini.