Stephan Nel, 39, Marius Harding, 23, DJ van Rooyen, 21, Ockert Muller, 20, and Joshua Scholtz, 21, at the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court. File picture: Bongani Shilubane/ANA

Pretoria  - The man could have died, a police officer told the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday as he testified in opposition to the bail application of the Pretoria men accused of assaulting a black couple at a KFC in Montana.

The investigating officer handling the case, Constable William Tladi said he was opposing bail because the matter was very serious and "the complaint [Jacob Sono] could have died during that attack". 

He said Sono bled through his mouth and ears after he was attacked at the fast food outlet.

The officer was the second to testify on Friday in opposition to the bail application of the Pretoria men accused of assaulting Sono and his wife Dudu at the KFC drive-through in Montana on August 2.

The attack happened earlier this month at a KFC drive-through in Montana, north of Pretoria and videos of the incident have gone viral on social media. It has trended on Twitter with the hashtag #KFCAssault.

Tladi told the court that accused number one, Stephen Nel, arrived at the scene when the brawl had started but he went on to point a firearm at Sono, before hitting him together with his co-accused.

"That is why I came to oppose bail. A person could die from being beaten in the head," said Tladi.

The officer told the court that the assailants did not only use physical attacks, but hurled verbal racial insults at the couple 

"They said she is a bitch, and that she doesn't know what she was doing. They also insulted her by her skin colour," Tladi told the court.

Magistrate Motlhoki Rapulana then asked Tladi to tell the court the exact words used in reference to Dudu's skin colour.

Tladi responded: "They called her a swart gat [black ass]."

However, Nel's lawyer, Nols Nolte, told the court that Tladi was not familiar with the details of the case and had just been instructed to come to court and oppose bail.

"In fairness to you, I want to put it to you that you are just doing what you have been told to do," said Nolte.

Nolte asked why there was no charge of crimen injuria if Dudu Sono was insulted, as stated in the police version.

Tladi said he was not the one who wrote down the complainant's statements, or formulated the charges. He said the docket was handed to him to investigate.

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, 20-year-old Ockert Muller, has already been granted bail. All five were in court on Friday.

A screengrab of footage of the assault of Jacob Sono outside the KFC in Montana, north of Pretoria. 

Earlier on Friday, the commander of the detective branch at the Sinoville Police Station in Pretoria North told the court that the men, accused of viciously attacking the 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”.

“This is a schedule five offence and there has been a public outcry over the incident. The video of the incident has been circulating on social media. A lot of people have expressed anger and disappointment over the incident,” Naidoo said.

He pointed out that even on Friday, “members of a political party” were protesting outside the court against granting bail to the accused. Members of the African National Congress Women’s League were picketing at the court, while others were in the packed courtroom.

Naidoo said Jacob Sono also vehemently opposed bail for his alleged assailants.

“The complainant [Sono] has indicated to me that he is scared and still in a state of shock regarding what transpired. He has also stated that he fears for the safety of his wife and minor kids if the accused are granted bail. The complainant lives in the Sinoville area and if they are released, he will encounter them. He fears that he will be further threatened and intimidated,” said Naidoo.

He also told the court that staff of the KFC Montana branch, where the violent attack took place, were also scared that the accused men will come and “interfere” with them if released on bail.

The bail hearing is expected to continue next week.