Pretoria - Violence could erupt if the Pretoria North Magistrates' Court grants bail to the men accused of assaulting a black couple at a KFC drive-through in Montana.
State prosecutor Ronnie Sibanda asked the investigating officer handling the case, Constable William Tladi, if he had seen the groups of people who congregated at the court every time the matter appeared, to which Tladi replied in the affirmative.
"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."
Earlier on Wednesday, members of lobby group AfriForum were also at the court, protesting against "double standards" in the handling of racial issues in South Africa. AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said the courts should decide whether the incident which sparked a massive public outcry was racial or not.
Stephen Nel, 39, Joshua Scholtz, 21, and Dicky Junior van Rooyen, 21, are facing charges of attempted murder, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, and pointing a firearm. Their one co-accused, 23-year-old Marius Harding, previously abandoned his bail application, while the other accused, 20-year-old Ockert Muller, has already been granted bail.
Harding was not in court on Wednesday as he had been taken to another court for a matter which had been pending.
Last week, the commander of the detective branch at the Sinoville police station in Pretoria North told the court that the men, accused of assaulting a married couple, should not be granted bail for the safety of the victims and their young children.
Warrant Officer Ravi Vengetsamy Naidoo told the court that incidents of racially motivated attacks were prevalent in his area of policing and “it is usually whites on blacks or blacks on whites”.