Abramjee suspect faces 19 charges

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Head of Crime Line Yusuf Abramjee addresses protesters who gathered outside the Atteridgeville Magistrates Court to demand that the men accused of robbing him at his home in Erasmia are denied bail. Photo: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - One of the two men accused of robbing Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee at his Erasmia home is awaiting trial in 19 cases and has five convictions to his name, it has emerged.

Abramjee announced this outside the Atteridgeville Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, saying all the charges related to robberies and thefts at houses and businesses west of the city from 2009.

“They (the suspects) are linked to 19 serious crimes and they are out on bail. How is that possible?” Abramjee said, adding that he had handed over a memorandum to the police.

The other man was awaiting trial in one other case. Abramjee and his family were robbed at their home in Erasmia on November 22. After demanding the keys to his BMW, the robbers opened fire. Abramjee and his son Zaheer, 21, returned fire.

Abramjee and other protesters gathered outside the court from 8am on Wednesday, demanding that the two men be denied bail. Scores of members of the Erasmia community held up posters saying “Jail the thugs”, “We demand justice” and “Courts must wake up”. When the two men appeared in the dock on Wednesday, their defence lawyer demanded that the tactical response team officers present in court with firearms leave the room before proceedings started.

The officers’ presence was “grossly disturbing and threatening”, he said.

According to the police, the pair allegedly planned to escape from custody during their first appearance last week and the tactical response team were called in.

The pair were also alleged to have tried to bribe prosecutors to let them walk free and tried to buy the case docket from members of the SAPS. On Tuesday, police officers found one of the men to be in possession of a cellphone in his cell.

On Wednesday, police again expressed fears that the pair might try to escape, and the two men were brought in shackles into the court, where members of the tactical response team lined the walls.

“This is a court of law, not a battlefield,” the suspects’ defence told the magistrate, referring to the armed officers’ presence in court.

“It is the first time I have seen automatic rifles allowed in court. We are not in a war zone.”

The magistrate agreed that the shackles be removed, saying it was unlikely the men would escape from a packed courtroom where a “considerable number” of police officers were present.

The defence repeatedly demanded, however, that the police officers with firearms be removed in case they accidentally fired their guns.

“Surely these officers are well-trained to use the weapons they were issued with and they will not put anyone’s life in danger?” the magistrate said, telling the defence to exercise restraint.

The defence lawyer did not back down, saying the police presence would set a precedent and “next time around the bomb squad might be called in”.

A third person who had been arrested with the two men was released after he provided the prosecution with an alibi.

Abramjee said the police had not approved the third man’s release.

The defence was not prepared to apply for bail on Wednesday and the matter was postponed to December 13.

Pretoria News

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