MaNtuli accused ‘a flight risk’, denied bail

2014-02-07 00:00

THE Tanzanian man charged with sending intimidating text messages to President Jacob Zuma’s second wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli (also known as MaNtuli), was refused bail yesterday on grounds he was likely to skip the country and not return for his trial.

Camperdown magistrate Thys Taljaard said apart from the fact that his parents and siblings (and one of his two children) live in the Durban area, there is nothing to hold Steven Masunga Ongolo (30) to South Africa.

“He spends more time out of this country than in it,” he said.

He also said that if Ongolo thought that his life was at risk — which it seemed that he did — this would encourage him to leave South Africa and not come back.

Taljaard said according to Ongolo he received what he regarded as a “very serious threat” from MaNtuli, the gist of which was “to the effect that he should be silenced or taken out because he is talking”.

“He deemed it so serious that he went to the highest police office in KZN to report it,” he said, referring to Ongolo’s evidence that he told KZN provincial commissioner, Lieutent-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, about the threat.

“He probably thought he was a marked man,” he added.

Taljaard said Ongolo doesn’t own any property or assets in South Africa and runs his business selling computers from Tanzania. His passport shows that between May 27 last year and January 19 he spent a total of 30 days in SA.

Ongolo is charged with intimidating MaNtuli to get her to arrange a business meeting for him with the president.

Ongolo’s legal aid lawyer Lekoa Lekoko said Ongolo had told him to appeal the court’s refusal to grant him bail in the high court.

He said the appeal will take place as soon as the record of proceedings was available, but because it was “urgent” it would be soon.

During his submissions ahead of the ruling yesterday, Lekoko urged the court to disregard the state’s suggestion that the case might have something to do with the forthcoming elections.

“We should not politicise this … The accused is not political,” he said.

Lekoko also said Ongolo needed to be free so that he could lay a counter charge with police over the threats that Ongolo claims he received from MaNtuli.

Earlier yesterday state prosecutor Ndoda January tried to press Ongolo for details about the threats he said were made against him by South Africa’s first lady, but Ongolo replied that he was only prepared to reveal the full story at his trial.

“She [MaNtuli] called me and she texted me on my cellphone number … the first threat that I received was at the beginning of January,” he said.

He said the messages were received on the same cellphone and were on the sim card that was in the possession of Brigadier Clifford Marion, head of KZN’s detectives.

Asked if he was threatened with physical harm or what the threat was about, Ongolo said the prosecutor should ask Brigadier Marion about it.

“He has my messages unless he has deleted them,” he said.

“I also sent a message [to MaNtuli] which said that if you continue, I will tell your husband … I sent that message … That is what I did, and when the threat got too much I went to the police to complain,” said Ongolo.

The case has been adjourned to March 11 for further investigation.

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