Cape Town poo protesters warned, freed

2013-06-13 22:00
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Cape Town - The three alleged "ringleaders" of a plot to dump human waste in central Cape Town were released on a warning by the city's magistrate's court on Thursday.

Magistrate Chumani Giyosi said the State had failed to prove why former councillor and ANC Youth League member Andile Lili, Yandani Kulati, and Thembela Mbanjwa should be kept in custody.

The State's evidence did not suggest in any way that they would interfere with any investigations or intimidate the witnesses, who were police officials, Giyosi said.

He said there was nothing to suggest they would undermine the proper administration of justice or be flight risks.

"The court can infer that the incidents that gave rise to [Lili, Kulati and Mbanjwa] being charged are politically motivated and that being said, that there are political undertones which cannot, by any means possible, be settled in a court of law."

The investigating officer, Warrant Officer Warren Smith, had testified that the three, and four other "ringleaders", were arrested with 176 protesters at the Esplanade train station in Woodstock on Monday morning.

He was told by railway police that several people had been carrying portable flush toilets and singing freedom songs which included a reference to Western Cape premier Helen Zille as a dog.

Smith said some carried the human waste in blue municipal bags contained in milk crates.

Lili identified himself to a warrant officer who asked him what they were doing at the station.

Xhosa interpreter

"According to the warrant officer, the answer was that they're on their way to Cape Town and about to throw faeces onto the Parliament."

The protesters were arrested when they disembarked from the train. They appeared in court on Wednesday. They were warned to return to court on 2 August. All of them were all charged with public violence and convening a gathering without notice.

Under cross-examination by lawyer Duncan Korabie, for Lili, Kulati and Mbanjwa, Smith conceded the protesters had not been violent at any stage and had not disrupted operations.

Korabie said there were therefore no grounds to the charges of public violence and that the protesters had been raising a legitimate issue through a peaceful protest.

"We will argue that these people carried those portable loos to take it to Helen Zille and to mayor Patricia de Lille to hand it to them because no else is collecting the faeces," Korabie said.

He accused the police of not having a Xhosa interpreter present when his clients made statements, and asked why the charge sheet in the court docket had been left blank.

Giyosi said the matter could have been struck off the roll because of the blank charge sheet, but that he had given the State room to present evidence in opposing bail.

The State had wanted bail arguments postponed until Tuesday, but the court ordered that they take place immediately to prevent unwarranted detention.

Proceedings ran over time and the three were released around 17:00.

Two men, who handed themselves to the police in connection with the matter, also appeared before Giyosi, who also warned them to return to court on 2 August.

They were ANC proportional councillor and ANCYL member Loyiso Nkohla, and Ward 40 youth committee representative Bongani Ngcombolo.

- SAPA
Read more on:    cape town  |  local government
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