DURBAN –The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had its application to reopen a case in the bail proceedings against an alleged Durban terror cell denied on Tuesday at the Verulam Family Court.
The application was brought by the State as it claimed “new evidence” had come before the court during the bail application and that the evidence needed to be tested before bail proceedings could continue.
Last week Thursday the state finalised its case for denying bail to 11 men, currently in custody, that are accused of being part of an alleged Durban terrorist cell with links to global terror group ISIS.
The cell is accused of planting explosive devices across Durban this year as well as attacking the Imam Hussain mosque in Verulam, in May, which left one man dead.
But on Tuesday, State advocate Adele Barnard requested that magistrate Irfan Khalil allowed for an adjournment to allow the State to make further inquiries into the replying affidavits submitted on Monday by the accused.
Facing stiff opposition from the defense advocates, Barnard said that on seeing the evidence presented in the various replying affidavits, they wanted to validate and provide a rebuttal to a number of the claims "in the interest of justice".
Barnard argued that the accused had not been forthcoming with any information during the initial investigation led by the police and that the information the accused provided in their replying affidavits offered “new evidence” that needed to be checked.
“There were a number of new issues raised in the affidavits. Bail proceedings are urgent but we shouldn’t sacrifice justice. Justice must be served to the accused and the state,” said Barnard.
The accused are facing schedule six offences including murder, attempted murder, extortion, arson as well as charges under South African anti-terror legislation known as the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act.
But the defence advocates unanimously opposed the request by Barnard, saying that the State’s case had merely been revealed as weak and this was a desperate attempt to find new, compelling reasons to keep the 11 accused incarcerated.
“It is very clear that the shoe is pinching the state [now that] they can see what is being put up [by the defence]. With all the resources [provided for this investigation by the state], why is the state not better prepared?” asked advocate Jimmy Howse, who acts for the alleged ringleader of the cell, Farhad Hoomer.
Advocate Joe Wolmarans, representing accused two, Ahmed Haffejee, said: “There are glaring problems in the State’s case. All we can say is that the State’s case is not that strong.”
Advocate Cindy Naidu, who is representing the remaining nine accused, said at least one of her clients was only charged in a minor offence and any further delays would be a “travesty of justice”.
Khalil denied the State’s application to reopen its case. “I think all applicants will be prejudiced [if the matter was adjourned,” he said.
The bail application of the 11 accused continued on Tuesday afternoon.
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African News Agency (ANA)