Military vets back in court for bail application after hostage drama
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Tshwane – Day two of the court hearing relating to 53 military veterans charged with holding two ministers and a deputy minister hostage on October 14 was expected to get under way at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre on Tuesday.
The military veterans were expected to continue with their bail application.
The day kicked off to a slow start with heavy police presence guarding entry points at the prison, while some military veterans arrived at court to support their colleagues.
Police arrested the suspects last week Thursday for kidnapping after they held Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele against their will following a meeting at the St George’s Hotel in Irene.
On Monday, only 52 appeared in court (located in the prison facilities) while another one was reportedly being treated in hospital.
The case is being heard by magistrate Bheki Ntsingila who on the first day dismissed the state’s request for a seven-day postponement.
The State made the request indicating it wanted to confirm the suspect’s details including addresses and check if they had any previous convictions or pending cases.
But Ntsingila ordered that the bail applications start soon.
In his argument, advocate Dali Mpofu, who is representing the majority of the vets, highlighted that the accused persons had been in custody for longer and that this breached the 12-hour period they needed to be processed.
He said their attorneys only had access to them on Sunday.
”You cannot take someone and lock them up. If there is any kidnapping, it’s the kidnapping of the people here (the accused),” he said.
Mpofu said human beings could not be locked up for no cause.
”The interest of justice is that all of us must be free,” he said, adding that the group’s arrest amounted to unlawful deprivation of freedom.
"There is nothing that has been given to your worship to justify the arrest. The state should do 100 times more than it is doing here,” Mpofu told the court.
The absence of charges meant that the state was relying on speculation for its preliminary charges, according to Mpofu.
”You cannot keep people in custody for an undefined period,” he said.
Mpofu wanted the court to dismiss the state’s application to postpone the matter.
Police had initially said they arrested 56 people who were part of those who had held senior cabinet members hostage.
At the time of the incident, some of the demands made by the military veterans included financial compensation of up to R4 million per person, free education for their children, free houses, among other things.
*Additional reporting Loyiso Sidimba