Court thwarts bail request of six alleged illegal mining kingpins

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Court thwarts bail request of six alleged illegal mining kingpins
Court thwarts bail request of six alleged illegal mining kingpins

Africa-Press – South-Africa. A defence lawyer representing six alleged kingpins behind an illegal mining syndicate was dealt a heavy blow in court when his request to have his clients released on bail fell on deaf ears.

Advocate Mulalo Lifhiga represented Bethuel Ngobeni, Dumisa Moyo, Nhlanhla Magwaca, Moseki Sechele, Thabo Sechele and Khudzai Mashaya in the Carltonville Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Nombewu said: “The State opposes the release on bail because of the seriousness of the charges. We are applying for a postponement of a bail hearing. The State applies for an opportunity to verify the addresses and statuses of the accused in the country.”

Reply

The defence attorney replied: “The offences are not under any schedule at this moment. I request the State to provide us with the charge sheet. We oppose any postponement.

“The State is saying the offences are serious. Yes, we concede they are serious, but nothing will prevent the court from granting (the accused) bail. On the issue of (personal) addresses, it is understood that all the accused were arrested at their homes in front of their children. Their addresses are known to the State.”

He claimed the six men were all South Africans.

“It is public knowledge that home affairs officials were present when my clients were arrested. There is no need to verify their statuses. The home affairs [officials] are not arresting officers.

“My argument is why home affairs were there when the arrests were made?

“Based on that, I request the court not to grant any postponement. All reasons advanced by the State don’t hold water,” Lifhiga said.

But the State believes Lifhiga has not properly consulted with the accused regarding their status in the country.

“It is only two of his clients who are South Africans; four are not. Yet the defence claims they are all South Africans. Home affairs officials were at the scene to investigate and compile the statement to convince the court that they had conducted some investigation.

“Their investigation (home affairs) entails interviewing the accused, their families and movements in the country. At this juncture, the defence is aware of the facts and hasn’t consulted with the clients…

“It is in the interest of justice for the court to hear all the facts. What will he do if he doesn’t know the status of his clients in the country?” Nombewu asked.

Nombewu said the court had a backlog of pending bail applications.

Cars worth millions seized as Hawks arrest suspected illegal mining kingpins

She said going ahead with Lifhiga’s bail application would be unfair to other accused who still had to bring their bail applications.

“Every bail application has to be treated speedily. Every accused has a right to be afforded a chance to apply for bail. I plead for a postponement,” Nombewu said.

Lifhiga said he was disappointed that the State had accused him of not consulting properly.

“I went to her and her boss. They said I would consult after. They wanted to ambush me. What I had just told the court is what I got from my clients. If two of them are South African, why are they not fixing bail for them? May the court fix bail for the two South Africans?

“She can’t come and raise other matters. We have other courtrooms that can be allocated for our bail hearing. I’m asking for a seven-day postponement,” Lifhiga said.

Ruling

The magistrate, Seanokeng Diale, said that, when the State opposed bail, evidence had to be brought before the court decided to grant bail.

“The court has to be satisfied with the investigation into the status of the accused in the country. Before bail is fixed, there has to be a formal bail application. This court is privy to the matter and can’t hear the bail application.

“There has to be another magistrate to be arranged to deal with bail. I have made my ruling. The matter will be heard on 19 October,” ruled Diale.

The six face four counts of fraud, possession of ammunition, contravention of the Precious Metals Act, and three counts of contravention of the Immigration Act.

The men were arrested on Tuesday during “Operation Gillette”, which was led by the Hawks, home affairs officials and SAPS.

A total of 14 high performance vehicles and a truck were confiscated.

The vehicles are worth millions of rands.

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