Court security risk discussed in Thulsie twins' terrorism case

2017-10-27 17:22
Supporters of the Thulsie twins at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. (Wim Pretorius, News24)

Supporters of the Thulsie twins at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. (Wim Pretorius, News24)

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Johannesburg – Security concerns took centre stage during the pre-trial proceedings in the matter involving terror-accused twin brothers Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie.

The matter, sitting in the South Gauteng High Court, was on Friday postponed to December 12 for the pre-trial to continue.

Among the issues dealt with during the proceedings was a phone call state prosecutor Chris MacAdam said he received from the office of the director of public prosecutions informing him that there had been a meeting with the judge president and senior officials of the court.

"I was informed that the judge president had indicated that leg irons had to be worn by persons in custody."

But Judge Raylene Keightley said she found it strange that the judge president would issue such an order.

"I already raised a concern last week that this court is searched as is my office. There must be some level of security concern. But I need to know from those who are assessing the risk, I cannot imagine that the JP (judge president) is in a position to assess the security risk."

'Wrong impression'

Keightley said she needed to make sure that the rights of people that appeared before her were balanced against genuine security concerns.

"Someone must have done an assessment that says the court must be searched and my office must be searched."

She said, logically, the instruction to sweep the court before the proceedings should come from the police and not from the National Prosecuting Authority.

Defence attorney Annelene van den Heever said: "I don't want a situation whereby a perception is created that our clients are highly dangerous when there is no factual basis."

Keightley said the security risk was an important factor in the case "because someone out there must have said there is a security risk".

MacAdam said he would get clarity on the matter.

Journalists searched

The twins, whose faces are not allowed to be photographed, appeared briefly in court in the presence of at least five police officers.

Journalists were searched and had to provide identification documents before entering the court.  

The brothers were arrested during raids in Newclare and Azaadville, on the West Rand, in July 2016.

They were allegedly linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) group and were allegedly planning to detonate explosives at a US embassy and Jewish institutions in South Africa, according to their charge sheet.

News24 reported previously that Van den Heever intended filing an application that would challenge the constitutionality of certain aspects of the Terrorism Act.

READ HERE: Thulsie twins to challenge constitutionality of Terrorism Act

In the indictment submitted to the court in April, the State lists 12 activities the twins were instructed to carry out using firearms, explosives and possibly poison.

The indictment stated: "In August 2015 [Tony-Lee] became a participant in a series of Telegram chats with Abu Fidaa, an ISIS network, and other persons whose real identities are unknown to the State, during which he was instructed to:

 - Attack the best targets involving 'US/Brit/French interest in SA';

Bomb-making advice

Other targets included King David High School in Linksfield, Johannesburg; the UK High Commission; the embassies of the US and Russia; the first secretary to the French mission; Jewish investment banker Roy Topol; SA Zionist Federation Telfed; state-owned arms manufacturer Denel; Jewish community events and foreign interests at airports.

READ: Defence lawyers need 'special' software to download Thulsie twins documents

Tony-Lee is accused of discussing terrorist plans with an undercover US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent between May and June 2016. He believed the agent was an ISIS operative based in the US.

He allegedly sought advice on making bombs and asked for funding.

He is also accused of soliciting support for ISIS using his personal Facebook page.

Brandon-Lee allegedly acquired the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook by Abdel-Aziz, and the manual entitled How to Survive in the West: A Mujahid Guide, which teaches its readers how to "live a double life" and "how to keep your secret life private".

Read more on:    isis  |  johannesburg  |  security

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