NPA declines to prosecute attorney Richard Spoor for 'pointing a finger' at police officer

2019-03-28 17:22
Richard Spoor speaks to Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe at a Xolobeni community meeting in September. (Screengrab: Amadiba Crisis Committee video)

Richard Spoor speaks to Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe at a Xolobeni community meeting in September. (Screengrab: Amadiba Crisis Committee video)

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Insufficient evidence was the reason the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) cited for its decision to decline to prosecute prominent attorney Richard Spoor, who was arrested for marching on a mining meeting of Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Eastern Cape NPA spokesperson, Luxolo Tyali, said: "the decision was taken after the perusal of the evidence in the docket and it is our view that there is insufficient evidence to secure a conviction". 

Speaking to News24, Spoor acknowledged said he was aware of the decision and said: "I'm relieved". He added that it has been very ''costly'' and "embarrassing".

News24 previously reported that Spoor was arrested in September 2018 after marching with community members during a meeting with Mantashe. He was later charged with disobeying a police officer's instruction, inciting public violence and common assault.

Posting his charge sheet on his Facebook page on October 11, Spoor said "the first charge is that on 23/09/2018 and at the Xolobeni location, I unlawfully and intentionally assaulted (senior Eastern Cape police commissioner Maj-Gen) Andries Petrus Swart by 'pointing him with a finger'". 

The attorney was representing Eastern Cape residents who opposed an application for a mine in Xolobeni. Video clips on social media showed Spoor and Mantashe in a heated exchange at the venue before an irate Mantashe was seen walking away.

Mantashe had visited the village in the Mbizana Local Municipality on the Wild Coast on September 23, 2018 to engage with residents on issues emanating from an application by Australian company Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (TEM) for rights to mine the titanium-rich sands.

The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) launched a court battle against Mantashe's department and TEM, which was heard in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in April, News24 previously reported.

Concerned by how much engagement with residents would actually take place, ACC members marched to the venue to add their voices to the debate. In videos posted by the committee, residents are seen singing and dancing as a line of police officers in riot gear form a line in front of the marquee. According to ACC, tear gas and stun grenades were fired.

In another video, Spoor tells Mantashe: "Don't call me a liar. I am trying to help you and if you work with us, we can work together and solve problems." Mantashe is heard telling Spoor not to disrupt the meeting.

In what was seen as a victory for the community, the Gauteng High Court ruled in November 2018 that the mineral resources minister must obtain consent from the community, as the holder of rights on land, prior to granting any mining right to TEM.

Read more on:    npa  |  gwede mantashe
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