Thabo Bester: no reason for bail, says prosecutor

By GroundUp

The accused in the Thabo Bester case appearing in court on Tuesday had not submitted sufficient evidence for bail to be granted, said prosecutor Sello Matlhoko.

The bail hearing of five of the eight accused resumed in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, with lawyers making closing arguments in favour of bail.

Lawyers argued that the accused will not interfere with investigations and will not evade trial.

Some of the accused are indigent or are the main breadwinners of their families.

The criminal trial is set to begin on 20 June. Bester and his partner Nandipha Magudumana have withdrawn their bail applications. Magudumana’s father, Zolile Sekeleni, is already out on bail.

Matlhoko argued that, except for Natassja Jansen, who faces lesser charges, it was up to the accused to provide evidence that the interest of justice will be served by them being released on bail. He said that the evidence submitted by the accused, via their affidavits, was not enough.

He was responding to closing arguments by lawyers for the accused.

Advocate Kagisho Moruri, representing former G4S employee Senohe Matsoara, said that if the investigations took another month to complete, Matsoara would have been in custody for over three months. This, he argued, would not be in the interest of justice.

Moruri also argued that the testimony of investigating officer Tieho Flyman did not show that, should he be released on bail, Matsoara would interfere with the investigation or undermine the justice system or disturb public order.

Moruri emphasised Matsoara’s right to be presumed innocent and said that Matsoara did not have any previous convictions, was not prone to violence, was a South African citizen by birth and had a fixed address.

“The state does not have a watertight case against the client,” said Moruri.

Tieho Makhotsa was also represented by Moruri. He said the investigating officer had not suggested that Makhotsa would commit another offence. 

He also said that it would be difficult for Makhotsa and Matsoara, who both have pending labour disputes with G4S in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), to pursue those disputes and instruct their attorneys while in custody.

Teboho Lipholo, an employee at Integritron Security Solutions and the CCTV camera technician who is accused of disconnecting power to the cameras on the night of the escape, was represented by Advocate Tshotlego Makamedi. Makamedi said Lipholo did not have enough blankets at the detention centre, had contracted flu, and had not been treated.

The accused will remain in custody until Wednesday morning when the hearing continues.

Pictured above: From left: Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, Motenyani Masukela, Tieho Makhotsa and Natassja Jansen in the dock at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday

Image source: GroundUp

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