Rank attack, six get bail

2018-06-27 06:00

THE six men charged in connection with the taxi commotion earlier this month were on Tuesday each granted bail of R2 000.

The decision followed a shift in the prosecution’s stance with Magistrate Vincent Ncanyana stating that, based on the information available, there were no grounds to deny bail.

Prosecutor Rene Padayachee conceded there were flaws in the matter after defence attorney Z. Mabaso re-opened his clients’ case.

Mabaso submitted documents about the ongoing tensions between two rival taxi associations, one of which the guards were paid to protect.

Thembinkosi Vezi, Mzokhona Goge, Siboniso Cele, Thembinkosi Mchunu, Sandile Mabida and Andreas Poswa work for GRH Executive Protection and Tactical Services which has been contracted to protect the Howick Taxi Association.

Their version of events state that, on June 1, members of the rival association opened fire on them at the Masukwana taxi rank.

To protect themselves, they returned fire. One person was killed, six people were injured and property was damaged, for which the guards have been charged.

Padayachee revealed that the state’s case “at this stage, is not strong”.

Furthermore, she said that the witnesses who had identified the men as the culprits on an identification parade all belonged to the rival taxi association — they were taxi owners and rank managers. Another problem, she said, was that shots were allegedly fired by the guards and the rival association’s members but only the guard’s firearms were sent for ballistic testing.

“If they had not handed themselves over to police, there would be no case,” she admitted.

Padayachee even agreed with Mabaso that the investigating officer’s “lack of knowledge” about the problems in the city’s taxi industry was “strange”.

Despite the magistrate being told that the state no longer opposed bail, he nevertheless considered all the evidence.

He said it was not his task to decide the guilt or otherwise of the accused. His primary consideration was to determine if they will stand for trial.

When it came to the state’s case, Ncanyana said that that alone amounted to exceptional circumstances, justifying their release on bail.

He added that there was no evidence to suggest the six men would commit further offences. All of them, except one, had clean records.

The case was adjourned to July 24 for further investigation.

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