Pretoria - The bail application of three of the five men arrested for assaulting a black couple - Jacob Sono and his wife Dudu - was postponed in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
After hearing submissions from lawyers representing Stephen Nel, 39, Joshua Scholtz, 21, and 21-year-old Dicky Junior van Rooyen, Magistrate Motlhoki Rapulana said State prosecutor Ronnie Sibanda will submit his closing arguments on Friday, before she announces the day when she will hand down her ruling.
She indicated in court that she will need to "apply her mind" before ruling on the trio's bail application - which has been opposed by the State.
Nel, Scholtz, and Van Rooyen are charged together with 23-year-old Marius Harding and 20-year-old Ockert Muller.
Harding, previously abandoned his bail application. He was not in court on Wednesday and his attorney told the court that her client had been taken to KwaZulu-Natal for an unrelated matter. Muller was granted R5,000 and the bail conditions were extended on Wednesday, until Friday.
The five are facing charges of attempted murder, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, and pointing a firearm. State witnesses, two police officers, believe the five acted in common purpose and the attack was racially motivated.
The vicious attack at a KFC drive-through in Pretoria north, was captured on cellphone video and the clip went viral on social media earlier this month. There was a public outcry leading to the arrest of the five men.
On Wednesday, the investigating officer, Constable William Tladi told the court that violence could erupt if the three are granted bail.
Sibanda asked Tladi, if he had seen the groups of people who congregated at the court every time the matter appeared, to which Tladi said yes.
“Are those people here to give moral support to the accused persons? Some of the people are carrying placards written ‘no bail’. Have you seen them?” Sibanda asked Tladi.
The police officer said there was no way the people were at court in support of the five accused.
Sibanda went on: “Look in the public gallery. You have seen what happens outside. What do you think would happen if the accused persons are to be granted bail?”
Tladi responded: “There could be fights.”
He also added that the lives of the accused men could be in danger.
Members of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League have been consistently protesting at the court. On Wednesday, numerous members of the Black First Land First (BLF) were also in the packed courtroom. Some had to sit on the floor as the public gallery was full.
During an adjournment, BLF deputy secretary general Tshidiso Tsimong said “anything could happen” if the accused men got bail.
“There is a lot of things that can happen. As the community and as BLF we are very upset with the manner they [the five accused] conducted themselves. Anything could happen. The might disappear, they could visit Europe or as things stand, they might even visit heaven. We don’t know in detail what will happen,” Tsimong told the African News Agency.
“We are asking the magistrate to act accordingly and not grant them bail. We don’t see it as the rightful thing to do. They wronged the system. They needed to come up with a defense that shows they are not a threat to society, but they have failed to do so.”