Judgment next week in Bronx bail bid

2012-08-04 10:03

Cape Town - The Cape Town Magistrate's Court is to rule on Wednesday on a bail application by Achmat Toffa, one of four men accused of killing the owner of a gay night club in Cape Town.

Toffa's three co-accused are already out on bail.

Prosecutor Johan Swart opposed Toffa's application, saying he would interfere with and intimidate prosecution witnesses if released on bail.

Toffa and three other men allegedly killed Bruno Bronn in his Green Point home in February. Bronn owned The Bronx, a gay night club in Cape Town city centre.

Swart produced to the court an affidavit in which co-accused Johan Frederick Coetzer claimed Toffa called him on a cellphone from Pollsmoor Prison and threatened to kill him if he told the truth about the murder.

At Friday's proceedings, senior prison official Joseph Botha told the court that awaiting trial prisoners were held in the prison's maximum security section, and were not allowed to have cellphones. They were only allowed to use a Telkom line, he said.

Defence attorney William Booth told the court Toffa was from Bo Kaap, where residents supported his release on bail. Booth said Toffa was not a threat to the community, and referred to a petition on the court record, signed by Bo Kaap residents, demanding his release.

Booth reminded the court that Toffa's co-accused were all out on bail, and said it would be unfair to deny Toffa bail.

Swart said the charges - premeditated murder and aggravated robbery - were serious. Their gravity required Toffa to satisfy the court that there were exceptional circumstances that justified his release on bail.

Toffa had failed to discharge this onus, he said. He said the interests of justice demanded that Toffa be kept in custody, not released on bail.

Toffa had a propensity for violence and no qualms about making a threatening phone call from prison, he said. The State had a constitutional duty to protect the public, Swart said.