Cape Town - The father of 8-year-old kidnapped, and recently returned, Abirah Dekhta, sat in court as the State announced shocking new charges against the seven men allegedly involved in her abduction.
After missing the first court appearance, Abirah’s father, Aslam Dektha accompanied by family, friends and supporters, was present as the accused made their second appearance at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court, yesterday.
Magistrate Goolam Bawa ordered that the identities of the accused may not be publicised.
Defence attorneys argued that publication would jeopardise the integrity of the investigation for the purpose of bail application, and for the identity parade which is still pending.
Social media profiles were also a cause of concern.
Entering the dock, the accused, aged between 25 and 47, were visibly grinning as they saw familiar faces seated inside the courtroom.
Bawa postponed the matter to December 13, to allow for all the accused, specifically 2, 3, and 4 to find legal representation before bail applications could be heard. A legal representative who had represented them and accused 5 and 6 at the first appearance,withdrew from the case.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila said: “These three accused told the court that they hired private legal representatives who are expected in court next Tuesday, December 13, to discuss a bail application date.”
Ntabazalila said the accused have been remanded in custody, with a Schedule 6 bail application planned.
“New charges have been added which include being a member of a criminal gang, we are charging them under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). For accused two, we are charging him with robbery with aggravating circumstances.
“The rest will be charged with kidnapping, alternatively human trafficking. They will also be charged with child pornography, attempted extortion, and contravention of the Cybercrime Act.”
Ntabazalila said at this stage, they would not be able to go into detail regarding the child pornography charge, with those details to emerge during the bail application.
“It's still very early in the investigation.”
A petition was created opposing bail for the seven accused by Gatesville neighbourhood chairperson, Fowzia Veerasamy.
The petition has since garnered more than 8 500 signatures.
Dekhta said it was the first time he saw the suspects in person.
He confirmed that he had received a call from the kidnappers with a ransom demand, threatening to sell and physically harm his daughter.