The Phala Phala siblings accused of the theft of thousands of undeclared US dollars that were hidden in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s sofa were granted bail by the Bela Bela Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
Ramaphosa’s former housekeeper, Froliana Joseph, and her brother, Ndilinasho David Joseph, who are accused number two and three, were granted R5 000 and R10 000 bail, respectively, after being two of the three arrested two weeks ago for the 2020 farm theft.
The two Namibian nationals, however, are not allowed to leave Bela Bela without the permission of the police.
Accused number one, Imanuwela David, who is seen as the ringleader, will only apply for his bail hearing next month, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The trio are accused of stealing about $580 000 (now more than R10 million) in a planned robbery at the president’s farm.
They are further charged with conspiracy to commit housebreaking with intent to steal, theft, housebreaking with intent to steal and money laundering.
However on Friday, handing over the judgement, presiding Magistrate Predeshni Poonan said that it was in the interest of justice that the two be let out on bail.
She based her decision on the fact that the two would be first-time offenders and they had been cooperating with officials during the investigation and their arrest.
She also said that the fact that the State, under the stewardship of senior advocate Nkhetheni Munyai, had not opposed bail weighed a lot on her decision.
Poonan said, “The State submitted two affidavits that stated the residential addresses for both accused had been verified and that the State had a strong case against both accused.
“Both did not resist arrest and did not interfere with the investigation nor temper or alter any evidence. The State had no objection to granting of the bail, however, that strict conditions should be attached to their release on bail.
“Section 60 (4) of the criminal procedure act 51 of 1977 sets out the principles that govern specific stipulations when considering granting bail. However, the ascents of these principles and considerations underline bail is simply that the accused should not remain in custody without good reason. The interests of justice are still in favour of protecting the freedom of the accused rather than depriving him or her of that freedom.”
Some of the conditions set out to both suspects were that they may not leave the jurisdiction of Bela Bela and were to appear in criminal court at Bela Bela Magistrate’s Court on the assigned court date.
They were also warned to refrain from communicating with any witnesses for the prosecution and that their passports remain with the investigating officer until the matter is finalised.
Legal analyst Melusi Xulu said in a television interview that reasons for the two to get bail were compelling enough.
“They were bound, especially for the woman who has a one year old child… Our constitution says whenever there are issues that deal with the child, the interests of the child are of paramount importance … besides the interests of the child, if you go back to a case, it stipulated that it’s not the intention of the law to punish the accused before the case is done. The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and if it's in the interest of justice they might get bail conditions set.
“Bail conditions depend on whether the person can be trusted and if they are not a flight risk,” Xulu said.
He was referring to Froliana’s argument, through her lawyer, Mike Mokgobu, during her bail application that she had an infant on the outside that needed her attention.
NPA spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said David would appear for his formal bail hearing on December 6 where the state would be opposing bail.