Shock as court grants bail for Smith murder accused

2014-07-16 00:00

“WAS Jake Smith’s life worth R1 500?”

This was the question asked by a group of outraged protesters after Siboniso Dlamini was granted bail by the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Dlamini is accused of murdering motorsport star Jake Smith, who was stabbed to death after an altercation with former Maritzburg United star Dutch footballer Orlando Smeekes.

Smith was accused of jumping the queue in the drive-thru lane of a KFC outlet in Armitage Road on July 6. Taxi driver Dlamini, who was transporting Smeekes, allegedly stabbed Smith to death.

Smith’s friends and members of the Pietermaritzburg drifting community staged a protest before Dlamini’s appearance and attended the proceedings.

They were upset to hear that Dlamini was granted bail and noisily walked out of court before the case could be adjourned.

Protesters, identifying themselves as members of a Facebook page started in Smith’s honour — “No Bail for Murderer of Jake Khumalo Boi Smith”, which has 2 750 followers — were vocal in their opposition to bail being granted to Dlamini. They said it was shocking that he was granted R1 500 bail.

“He took Smith’s life and now he is allowed to continue with his life as if nothing happened. He got bail but he will pay for his crime one day,” vowed one friend who did not want to be named.

Dlamini sat quietly in the dock, covering his face with his hand and jacket as photographers tried to take his picture.

His lawyer, Sibongile Mbamali, applied for bail by handing in an affidavit stating that Dlamini is a first offender and would abide by whatever conditions were set by the court.

The self-employed driver wants to continue with his taxi business so he can support his family, as he is the sole breadwinner. He added that he would plead not guilty to the charge.

Warrant Officer A’Daan de Villiers, the investigating officer, said in his affidavit Dlamini had a previous conviction on a traffic offence, for which he was sentenced to a fine of R1 200 or 20 days’ jail.

He opposed Dlamini’s application, saying the public view is that bail should be denied as Smith’s death was uncalled for.

De Villiers said there was also concern for Dlamini’s safety as Smith’s friends want revenge for his murder. He added that Smith was a celebrity among youngsters in Pietermaritzburg, especially in the motorsport fraternity, and that Dlamini had been identified as the ­alleged murderer by eyewitnesses.

He said a post-mortem report, further witness statements and other items were outstanding.

Magistrate Ntsoaki Ndawonde said it was in the interests of justice that Dlamini be released and granted him bail of R1 500. He will be back in court on September 16.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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