ANC councillor Gideon Tshivhuya will spend the next few days in jail after his bail application was postponed.
Tshivhuya and ten others are accused of arson and public violence in troubled Vuwani in Limpopo.
Tshivhuya constantly nodded his head as his defence attorney tore into the state in a fierce bid to oppose its request for postponement of the bail application, saying it was an injustice for the accused to be kept in jail any further.
In a hearing held today at the Malamulele Magistrate’s Court, the state asked Magistrate Goodwin Ntsane to postpone the bail application for Tshivhuya and others to allow the investigating officer to profile them and check if they did not have any other pending court cases before their bail application hearing.
But their lawyer argued that the “court can’t be used as a license to keep these people in detention”, adding that their “profiling cannot suffice as a reason for postponement”.
After spending time listening to the defence’s argument, Ntsane calmly cited a provision which allows the court to postpone the bail application for another seven days to give the investigating officer an opportunity to profile the accused.
Ntsane said the case before him in which the group is facing charges of public violence and arson was “not an ordinary matter ... (it involves) massive destruction of huge magnitude”.
A total of 21 people were arrested over a week ago and last weekend in connection with the violent protest over demarcation which has left 26 schools damaged in areas around Vuwani.
In the end, Ntsane agreed to have the bail application postponed to May 24.
This was met with some mumbling from accused number two, Edzisani Muthathe, after Ntsane asked them to walk back to the holding cells.
A visibly angry Ntsane was quick to call him to order saying they were “not playing marbles in court” and dared Muthathe to mumble again and see the punishment he would mete out.
Without hesitation the group started dragging their feet, visibly disappointed as they walked towards the cells.
Those in court said Muthathe was a teacher. This was corroborated by a story in the Limpopo Mirror, a regional newspaper, which said Muthathe was a teacher in the Hlanganani area but left months ago and was now working at a local education department office.
It was further reported that he left the school after what is believed to have been a case of tribalism. The department was yet to respond to questions on Muthathe’s status within the education department.
Meanwhile in Vuwani, trucks loaded with mobile classes were seen delivering the structures to damaged schools under police escort.
Schooling had reportedly resumed at several schools despite a low turnout of learners. Government officials said they were expecting this to improve with time. More mobile classrooms were expected to arrive in the area to create learning space in the interim before damaged classes were rebuilt.