Johannesburg - A director of Dave Sheer Guns will spend another three nights behind bars following a dramatic court day during which charges against him were dropped.
He was rearrested immediately and attorneys shouted threats at journalists.
Dave Sheer Guns director Gareth de Nysschen and general manager Efthimios Demis Karamitsos appeared in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on allegations of dealing in stolen military ammunition.
The pair were arrested at OR Tambo International Airport last week.
Shortly before the arrests, The Star ran an exposé into a gun scandal, reporting that the police and forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan were looking at alleged police bribery at the shop.
The two appeared in the dock alongside soldiers Teboho Peter Motaung and Diphang John Motloung, who allegedly sold military ammunition illegally.
Motloung’s son Thabang was also in the dock.
Motaung and Motloung had their case postponed to August 20 and Thabang’s case was set down for Friday for a bail application.
Prosecutor Minke Erasmus provisionally withdrew the charges against De Nysschen and Karamitsos on what she said was a technicality.
The men were then charged again in the cells and brought to court for their bail application.
After magistrate Syfred Mati had left, defence attorney Annelene van den Heever shouted that all this had done was give them a case against the military police and the prosecutor.
She demanded that court orderlies fetch the magistrate as her time was being wasted. “They are just finishing up the arrest. It won’t take long… I think he is just in the toilet,” Erasmus said.
Van den Heever handed the court affidavits from the accused in appeal of bail and asked that they not be read out in court, but be taken as exhibits. This was allowed.
The State opposed bail for De Nysschen, but asked that his bail application be postponed to Friday because the prosecutor had been on holiday at the time of the arrests.
Van den Heever asked what else the State wanted to investigate.
“Is it because a man called Paul O’Sullivan is whispering nonsense in their ears?” she asked.
Erasmus replied that she did not know O’Sullivan and indicated that the Hawks were also investigating De Nysschen. “I need to get all the information from them,” the prosecutor said.
The magistrate asked for a short postponement to consider the matter.
When he had left the court, the attorney for Dave Sheer Guns, Martin Hood, openly threatened The Star’s journalist.
He said he had received threatening SMSes from O’Sullivan and accused The Star of giving him information on what was happening in court.
Hood told the reporter to call her attorney as he would be laying charges. Asked what he meant, he replied: “You will see when the magistrate comes back.”
When Mati returned to court, Van den Heever said she wanted to place on the record that Hood had received SMSes from O’Sullivan. These told Hood he had made defamatory statements about O’Sullivan and was bad-mouthing him in earshot of journalists. O’Sullivan, Van den Heever said, told Hood that if he didn’t stop, he would call a press conference.
“I don’t know who is in contact with him, but we don’t take kindly to attorneys being threatened while doing our work,” Van den Heever said.
De Nysschen’s bail application was postponed.
The Star’s deputy editor, Kevin Ritchie, said:
“We reject the allegations against Ms Serrao with the contempt they deserve.
“We have the highest regard for her as a journalist and colleague, and have no doubt about the veracity or the fairness of what she has published. We do not take threats against our staff lightly and have already briefed our lawyers to instruct Mr Hood, and any others, to desist from doing so - or face the consequences.”