Dragging case: no bail

2010-09-30 00:00

THE two Howick businessmen who were arrested on allegations of dragging their employee, Tankiso Skhosana, after allegedly stripping him naked and putting a plastic bag over his head were denied bail by the Howick Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

During the proceedings a group of people barged into the courtroom carrying placards, some of which read “No bail for the pigs”. Neither the complainant or his family were present during the proceedings.

The protesters were asked by court orderlies to move away from the courtroom.

Community leader Ningi Mkhize said granting the accused bail would give the impression that violence against blacks by whites in the area was promoted.

Magistrate BV Zwane said it would not be in the interest of justice to grant bail for Born Electrical owner Johan Bornman (33) and his senior manager, Theunis Jacobus Schoeman (32), who were arrested last Thursday and charged with attempted murder and kidnapping.

The proceedings saw investigating officer Phumlani Mbelu on the dock questioned by defence advocate Vershan Moodley.

In his affidavit, opposing bail, Mbelu had stated that the accused might intimidate the complainant and interfere with the investigation. He added that after the two were arrested, a white man accompanied by an Indian man went to the residence of the complainant, who hid when he saw the vehicles they arrived in which belong to the accused’s business. It is unknown why the two had gone there. Mbelu said the accused had been reluctant to give him their identity documents and that telephone threats were also made to the accused.

He also said he was told on Tuesday morning that Bornman’s brother had called a warrant officer Buthelezi and offered him a R20 000 bribe if he could make the case vanish.

This, despite ealier allegations by the officer that Bornman’s wife Anthea had attempted to bribe him with R10 000 on Sunday.

Anthea made a counter allegation that Mbelu had attempted to get a bribe from her, but she did not report the matter.

On these grounds Mbelu said he believed that if granted bail, the accused would interfere with the investigation.

Advocate Moodley asserted that Mbelu was evasive in answering questions, but Magistrate Zwane disagreed, stating that it was the way the questions were phrased by the defence team.

In concluding the proceedings Zwane stated that sub-section 11 of the Criminal Procedure Act provides that the court shall order the accused to remain in custody unless reason is given to do the opposite.

“It is not in the interest of justice if bail is granted where there is likelihood that the accused can interfere with the complainant or the investigation.

“Nor is it in the interest of justice to grant bail if the accused could likely cause public disorder. The court can draw reasonable inference from the visit to the complainant’s place of residence by the white and Indian man that the accused are likely to interfere with the case if released on bail,” said Zwane.

In the submission by the state prosecutor it became evident that the accused are facing serious charges that might lead them into interfering with the case.

“The picketing by community members outside the court also indicates that should the two be granted bail then their own safety might be jeopardised.”

The case will resume on October 21.

After the proceedings Anthea and other family members wept uncontrollably, comforted by the defence team in the court corridors.

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