After six years of postponements Durban police brutality case pretrial date set

18 police officers accused of the kidnapping, torture and murder of 32-year-old Regan Naidoo

By Benita Enoch

23 February 2024

Regan Naidoo died in police custody in 2018. Photo supplied.

A date for the pretrial hearing in a case against 18 members of the South African Police Service was set down on Thursday in the Durban Magistrates’ Court after years of postponements.

Regan Naidoo, 32, died in police custody in August 2018 after he was arrested at a petrol station in Chatsworth on suspicion of being in possession of a firearm used in a local crime.

Initially, 22 police officers were charged. But during 2023, one of the accused, Riyadh Adams, died in a shoot out during a jewellery heist, and the State also withdrew charges against four accused: Christopher Kisten, Irindran Miastry, Ralph Ogle and Christopher James.

Pushpanthan Pillay, Malcolm Naicker, Brian Naidoo, Trevor Chetty, Mlamhli Ntutuka, Andries Botes, Sihle Ngidi, Erik Karsen, Mohammed Raoof, Eric Morajane, Preshan Lutchman, Cedric Pillay, Xolani Sosibo, Kubendran Kristen, Rajen Saunders, Devendra Chetty and Ugeshan Govender face charges of murder, attempted murder, torture, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

On Thursday, Magistrate Maryn Mewalal was officially appointed the Presiding Officer. At the last hearing, 30 January 2024, the defence objected to a locally appointed magistrate on the grounds that they may have interacted in the past with the accused owing to them being police officers.

Magistrate Mewalal surveyed the accused and said that while it was possible she may have interacted with those who had testified in other criminal cases before her, she did not know any of them personally, had no relationships with any of them, and none of them were related to her. The defence was satisfied with this.

Both the State and the defence confirmed that discovery in the matter had been completed and no further delays were expected before the pretrial.

Magistrate Mewalal set down the pretrial conference and the arrangement for assessors for 19 March. The trial will usually be two to four weeks thereafter.

Thursday’s ruling came as a relief for Naidoo’s father, Timothy, who, together with Naidoo’s uncle and aunts, has consistently appeared in court for the past six years.

“My wife still can’t talk about Regan. It’s still like a funeral house at home. She begins to say his name and she just breaks down and can’t talk anymore,” he told GroundUp outside court.