Thulsie twins to challenge constitutionality of Terrorism Act

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

Johannesburg – Lawyers representing the Thulsie twins are expected to file an application that would challenge the constitutionality of certain aspects of the Terrorism Act.

During pre-trial proceedings in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday morning, Annelene van den Heever said she would file a constitutional defence application which would challenge the South African Terrorism Act, which the twins were charged with.

The application would also include non-constitutional aspects.

ALSO READ: Thulsie twins to appear in High Court for pre-trial hearing

Judge Raylene Keightley ordered both counsels to prepare pre-trial drafts with timelines.

Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie were arrested during raids in Newclare and Azaadville, on the West Rand, in July 2016.

The twins 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 SA, according to their charge sheet.

Visuals of twins

Before court proceedings started, Van Den Heever objected to the use of visuals of the twins.

"There have been images of your clients in the media houses before," Keightley said.

However, Keightley ordered that media houses could film court proceedings without showing the twins.

State prosecutor Chris MacAdam said the images previously used by media houses were found online and some were obtained in court files.

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';
 - Kill Zapiro, who drew the Messenger of Allah cartoon;
 - Kill Jews who fight in Israel and return to South Africa;
 - Kill affluent Jews; and
 - Kill gay imam, 'as yet unidentified'."

Other targets included King David High School in Linksfield in Johannesburg, the UK High Commission, the embassies of the USA 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.

Discussing terrorist plans

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.

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

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

Brandon-Lee allegedly acquired the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook by Abdek-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".

Earlier, the State said that the brothers collected issues of Inspire, the propaganda magazine of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The issues contained an illustrated guide on making explosive devices, inciting participation in "jihad" and provided training in weapons and combat, the indictment said.

The matter was postponed to October 27.

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