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The magistrate who was to hear the escape trial of alleged jail-breaker Bongani Moyo and his co-accused recused himself on Monday, saying he would not be able to give them a fair trial.
“I have seen the newspapers and I have seen them on TV. I will not be able to give them a fair trial,” said Chris Chokoe.
It was a busy day for Moyo and his co-accused as they first had to appear in the Correctional Services court and then via the audio-visual remand (AVR) system – in the magistrate’s court – from Pretoria Central Prison.
The AVR system allows awaiting-trial prisoners to appear in court via a TV screen without having to leave the prison.
Moyo, whose feet were shackled, shuffled into the dock of the prison court with two co-accused, Themba Dube and Khumbulani Sibanda. The three face charges of escaping from lawful custody after their failed escape attempt from Pretoria Central Prison in March.
Last month, the court heard from Moyo’s legal representative, Donald Somo, that he was ready to go to trial, and the case was postponed to allow the State to obtain photographs of the crime scene.
Chokoe postponed the case to May 29 to have a new magistrate assigned. Less than an hour later, Moyo appeared in the magistrate’s court on charges of robbery.
Moyo and three co-accused, Leon Ncube, Thabani Sibanda and his cousin, Khubulani Sibanda, face 13 charges, including robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of unlicensed firearms.
Somo presented an indictment containing the trial date in the high court to magistrate Maryke de la Rey. She noticed an error. The date indicated for trial was March 2012 instead of March 2013.
The case was postponed to Wednesday to have the date corrected. Moyo will also appear in another court in connection with his escape from the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court last August.