Bail bid by ex-Bafana star postponed

By Drum Digital
28 April 2015

Johannesburg - A bail bid by former Bafana Bafana soccer player Lebohang Morule and two others, accused of being in possession of an illegal jamming device, was postponed in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Magistrate Emmanuel Magampa will make a bail ruling on May 11.

Prior to the postponement, the court heard technical arguments over the charge faced by Morule, Obed Sithongu and Sizabanthu Mgabhi related to the illegal possession of a signal jamming device.  The three were arrested on April 8 after being found in possession of the device.

Sithongu, who is unemployed, and Mgabhi, a cellphone charger vendor, were dressed in official metro police uniforms at the time.

Police stopped their vehicle and searched it after receiving a tip-off that a gang planned to rob a truck carrying cigarettes on Main Reef Road in Boksburg.

Mzawakhe Mahlangu, defence lawyer for Morula, Sithongu and Mgabhi, told the court that the three being charged with violating the Electronic Communications Act did not square with the device that was allegedly found in their possession.

This was because there was no proof that the device received any signals, argued Mahlangu.

Prosecutor Angeline Mooiman asked investigating officer Constable Derrick Masondo if he had attained an expert's report on the signal jamming device allegedly found in Morula, Sithongu and Mgabhi's possession.

Mahlangu during cross-examination asked Masondo whether the device received any signal.

"Your Worship, I do not know whether the device received signals, but according to the report it blocks them," Masondo, speaking through an interpreter, told the court.

Mahlangu replied: "I'm now putting it to you that it doesn't receive any signal," to which Masondo admitted that it did not receive a signal, but again stressed that the device blocked them.

"Sir, in a nutshell, a jamming device does not qualify in terms of the act in terms of a radio apparatus because it does not receive signal, it does not transmit signal," Mahlangu said.

Mahlangu later told the court that neither Sithongu nor Mgabhi had previous convictions nor pending cases against them, with both men having co-operated with police since their arrest.

"It's clear and straight forward. I do not understand why, if they were given bail, why they would be a flight risk," he said.

Regarding Morule, he said the fact Morule's wife did not answer the phone when the police called, with police being given the correct number, was something Morule was not responsible for.

Given that Morule was recognisable, he was also not a flight risk as he would be seen.

"As we have already noticed, he [Morule] is a public figure of some kind, what are the chances that he would not be known?"

He said in previous cases Morule had been involved in, he had no history of evading court, always appearing when required, and was facing different charges, which were non-violent, in this matter compared to his other cases.

"There is no reason why he would not co-operate with the courts and not come," Morule said.

"For me this is a normal case. The only thing that makes this a so-called high profile case is because accused number one was a former Bafana Bafana player."

He wanted the court to grant bail to all three men, at a level appropriate for the three and in the circumstances.

Mooiman said both Sithongu and Mgabhi faced a separate charge of being in possession of police uniforms, and in the current South African context, where robberies were committed by persons impersonating police officers, this was an alleged offence that had to be noted.

She said Morule had previous convictions and there were two pending cases against him. This indicated that he had a propensity towards crime, regardless that the charges he was facing in this matter were different from others he faced in separate cases against him, being those of attempted murder and robbery.

"He has a propensity towards crime and your worship, this propensity is not petty crime, it is serious crime... It is not in the interests of justice and society that this person be released on bail," she said.

She said that Morule had the means to leave the country, and it was a concern that his home address could not be verified to Masondo's satisfaction.

Source: News24

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