One of the finest legal minds on the South Coast, Magistrate Johann Bester, has called it a day.
Bester who has been with the Department of Justice for 45 years, has had a colourful career on the bench.
His last position was a senior magistrate at the Port Shepstone Regional Court.
Advocates and lawyers based in Durban who represented clients before Bester, said he was always aware of the distance they had to travel back home and ensured that cases were speeded up, to avoid them being held up at court without any sound reason.
Five years ago, the magistrate convicted and jailed human trafficking ringleader, Veeran Palan for 10 years. Edwina Noris, a co-accused got a six year jail term.
While their lawyers had argued that this was not a classic human trafficking case because the complainant’s – two Cape women were confined to a house in Oslo Beach for just a weekend, Bester disagreed.
“While they were not beaten, enslaved, tied and starved like in other human trafficking cases, the incidents over one weekend will have an effect on them for the rest of their lives.
The fact that they were forced to sleep with strangers is an aggravating factor,” said Bester.
In another case, several years ago, Bester handed down the mandatory sentence – 25 years on Ayanda Shabane, who was a learner when he killed a man and raped his companion while they were walking in Margate, two years ago.
Shabane was traced by the investigating officer via the victim’s cellphone which he had stolen and had used until he was arrested.
Bester said while Shabane (aged 21 when he was arrested) was a young person who can be rehabilitated provided he wanted to do so, he had to be jailed for a long time for the violent and serious crimes. “There are many young unemployed people. They are law abiding citizens and do not kill, rape and steal. The accused has no respect for the law. A long prison sentence is justified,” said Bester.