Number 1 Tsotsi, Vusi 'Khekhe' Mathibela's bail withdrawal appeal denied
His next option will be to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal directly. But the court heard that Mathibela, who had been in custody since June last year when his bail was revoked, was running out of money to pay his “astronomical” legal fees.
The man, said to be feared by many, is facing a charge of murder, together with his co-accused, following the alleged assassination of billionaire businessman Wandile Bozwana.
Judge Bert Bam withdrew his R50000 bail in June after the State submitted that he had contravened several bail conditions. His bail was forfeited to the State.
His lengthy murder trial has been postponed from time to time, and while it did briefly proceed in January, it was postponed to July.
Mathibela applied for condonation for his failure to lodge his leave to appeal within the prescribed time frame. He told Judge Bam this was because he had been in jail since his bail was revoked and he thus experienced a “sporadic decline in his financial resources”.
He had had to appoint another attorney to represent him due to the fact that his legal expenses “rose to an astronomical amount”.
Mathibela explained that he had run out of money, but had now managed to “raise sufficient funds”.
He was now represented in his appeal bid by a senior and junior advocate, as well as a lawyer.
His legal team argued that he should be afforded leave to appeal as his chances of another court releasing him on bail were good.
One of the reasons his bail was revoked was the fact that he had to hand in his passport as part of his bail conditions. However, while on bail, he went on holiday to Mauritius with his family. He was also on the brink of leaving for another holiday in Dubai when he was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport.
Mathibela said he did hand in his passport to the investigating officer when he was released on bail. He said the officer returned his passport to him when he indicated he wanted to travel abroad.
This was denied by the officer. It is not clear how he got hold of his passport, but the court heard that when he had returned from Mauritius, he locked it up in a safe deposit box at a luxury Johannesburg hotel.
It was later, after his arrest last year, retrieved by the police.
Judge Bam said the SAPS officer who was supposed to safeguard the passport was in all probability in cahoots with Mathibela who claimed that the officer, of his own accord, handed the passport to him when he wanted to travel. His team said the bail condition that he had to surrender his passport was vague and it was never said he could not leave the country.
Judge Bam said it was logical that one could not leave the country if you were told to submit your passport.
He said what made Mathibela’s situation worse was the fact that when he was arrested at the airport on his way to Dubai, the passport in question was still in the safe deposit box at the hotel. “The question arises as to how did he intend to leave the country lawfully,” the judge said. Mathibela and his team were unable to answer this.
Judge Bam said he was not convinced another court would find in favour of Mathibela on appeal.