Amy'Leigh kidnapping: Two accused to stay behind bars, third out on bail

Accused kidnappers Piet van Zyl, Laetitia Nel, and Tharina Human are seen during the Amy'Leigh de Jager kidnap case in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)
Accused kidnappers Piet van Zyl, Laetitia Nel, and Tharina Human are seen during the Amy'Leigh de Jager kidnap case in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

Two people accused of kidnapping 6-year-old pupil Amy'Leigh de Jager have been denied bail. 

Amy'Leigh de Jager was snatched from her mother, Angeline, outside Laerskool Kollegepark in Vanderbijlpark on September 2. 

Suspended Laerskool Kollegepark Grade RR teacher Tharina Human and Pieter van Zyl were denied bail on Friday in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court. 

Accused number two Laetitia Nel was granted bail of R25000 with condition she is to report every Wednesday to Vanderbijlpark police station and to hand over her traveling documents. She is also not to contact or communicate with witnesses. 

A fourth accused, Bafokeng Molemohi, has abandoned his bail application. 

Handing down judgment,  Magistrate Hussain Khota said the court had to evaluate the "balance of probabilities based on facts" and evidence brought before it. 

He said the facts presented to the court in arguing for the accused to be released or not to be released, were, however, yet to be proved on trial. 

READ | Amy'Leigh cried all night, didn't want to go back to school - court hears

Khota said the nature of the crime the accused are alleged for, formed the basis of the State's opposal of bail and could not be ignored by the court.

He added the court is satisfied that the case of state, on a balance of probabilities, does not favor the release of the accused on bail. 

"This court believes the fears of investigating officers are justified as the court is sure that if applicant 1 (Human) is released will interefere with state witnesses" he said. 

Khota added that the fears of state that Human may be harmed by the "drug lords" were accepted and likely to happen. 

The facial demeanor of Human and her co-accused also gave a negative impression to the court, Khota said. 

He said Human looked unfazed throughout proceedings in court. He added that Human would be a danger to society and may even fake her own kidnapping. 

"She (Human) is seen to be educated and is also seen on the evidence to be highly manipulative." 

Arguments

During the bail hearing, the court heard arguments from the defence that the accused did not pose any flight risk and that they would adhere to bail conditions.

However, the State argued that their release would endanger the accused and traumatise 6-year-old De Jager. 

Human, the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping, reportedly uses "narcotics" and owes money to drug lords.

The three informed the court that they would be pleading not guilty to the charges of kidnapping and extortion they face. 

Prosecutor Luanda Ngcobo argued that the "drug lords" were probably angry that the public knows about the alleged debt and would probably want to punish Human. 

But the defence argued that Ngcobo relied on the evidence of investigating officer Constable Clayton Motloung and submitted that his evidence was baseless.

In his testimony on September 19, Motloung said the accused initially planned to kidnap Human so that her family could pay a ransom which she could use to pay the drug lords.

However, the plan was abandoned and they opted to snatch De Jager instead, the court heard.

Motloung said a witness who was privy to the plan would testify during the trial.

But Human's lawyer, David Mey, described Motloung's evidence as "speculation". 

He and Nel's lawyer, Stoffel Venter, as well as Van Zyl's lawyer, Lungelo Chirwa, argued that the merits of the case had nothing to do with the bail application and were for the trial court to decide.

Later on Friday, a separate court is expected to hear the bail application of a fourth accused, Bofokeng Molemohi, 24, who was arrested on September 23.

Magistrate Milla Kgobane previously heard that the accused did not have the required documentation which allowed him to legally be in South Africa.

The State was therefore opposing Molemohi's bail bid.

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