Thulsie twins terrorism trial: State data loss leads to yet another postponement

2019-11-13 14:18
Wasiela Thulsie is seen with her daughter outside the Kagiso Magistrate's Court during the appearance of her sons on charges of alleged terrorism. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)

Wasiela Thulsie is seen with her daughter outside the Kagiso Magistrate's Court during the appearance of her sons on charges of alleged terrorism. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)

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The case against terror-accused twins Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie has been postponed and an order has been handed down by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for the State to hand over further particulars as requested by the defence.

Wearing their black thobes and rounded skullcaps, the twins walked up into the dock shortly before proceedings started on Wednesday morning. Police officers were in court to monitor security.

The twins smiled as they spoke with their relatives who were present in the courtroom to support them. 

READ | Court security risk discussed in Thulsie twins' terrorism case  

When proceedings resumed before Judge Rata Mokgoatlheng, the State submitted that further information about the indictment, as requested by the defence, was not yet ready. 

It also submitted the reason for the delay was that some of the information had been wiped from a laptop while it was being backed up by the National Prosecuting Authority's information technology department.

The State explained that this data loss led to it having to retype the information, which consists of hundreds of pages.

Common purpose

An application for further particulars in a criminal matter is a request in terms of Section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The provision in the Act states that an accused may at any stage before a matter goes to trial request the prosecution to furnish further particulars of any case alleged in the charge sheet and indictment.

The State submitted to the court that it had, however, handed draft particulars to the twins' lawyers in the interim.

But advocate Annelene van den Heever, representing the brothers, submitted to the court that they could not argue based on the draft information given to them by the State. 

Van den Heever told the court that among the pressing issues they had with the case was that of common purpose. 

"The State failed to make mention of their reliance on common purpose in their indictment. And it's only during their draft that that issue was first time raised ... The issue of common purpose is particularly important and relevant to a request for further particulars," she said. 

She added that the State was obliged to go to the heart of an allegation in terms of dealing with it in detail and submitting all the detail needed to the defence. 

Thulsie twins.

Thulsie twins Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie are accused of terror. (Nombulelo Manyana, Beeld, file)

Remain in custody

"We can't argue the current further particulars before your lordship, we can't bring an application for further and better particulars, and we can't bring an application for compelling at this point. Things like that take time..." Van den Heever said.

Mokgoatlheng then ordered the State to provide the information no later than November 22 when court will sit again. 

The brothers were arrested during raids in Newclare, Johannesburg, and Azaadville, on the West Rand, in July 2016. They were allegedly linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) group.

The State alleges they were planning to detonate explosives at a US embassy and Jewish institutions in South Africa.

While pre-trial proceedings in the matter have been dragging on for almost two years, the defence has informed the court that it is looking at ways to potentially cut down on length of the trial, in the interest of their clients, which was also why further particulars were essential for them. 

Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee remain in custody, although their lawyer also informed the court that they would, in the future, be looking at other options pertaining to their incarceration.

Read more on:    isis  |  tony-lee thulsie  |  brandon-lee thulsie  |  johannesburg  |  courts
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