Alleged instigator and former Ukhozi FM DJ Ngizwe Mchunu avoided the police with a private jet and is a flight risk, the State told the court during Mchunu’s bail application.
There was a high police presence outside the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, as supporters gathered for the bail application for former Ukhozi FM DJ Ngizwe Mchunu.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), during proceedings, opposed the bail application. The State said the alleged unrest instigator is a “flight risk” and that the interest of justice does not permit the NPA to release Mchunu on bail.
According to the State prosecutor Yusuf Baba, the accused is facing two charges – one for contravening regulations implemented in terms of the Disaster Management Act to fight the spread of Covid-19, and for allegedly inciting violence.
Baba also highlighted that Mchunu avoided the police five times, before he handed himself over at the Durban police headquarters, about a week ago.
“The accused is a flight risk and does not live at the address in Phoenix, Durban, which he provided to the court. The accused is also in possession of a valid South African ID and passport, as well as a valid American passport, making it easy for him to travel abroad and not attend his trial date,” the prosecutor said.
As part of the evidence of the State to oppose the bail application, four videos were played during the court session. In one, Mchunu is seen addressing the “state of the nation” at the KwaMai-Mai market in Johannesburg, later the location changed, and the address was delivered from a hotel in Bryanston.
In his address, he expresses his frustration about the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma and ends the video with the word “Ayikhale” which the state is interpreting as the alleged call to the violence that erupted.
After his address, violence erupted in Jeppestown, Denver, Cleveland, and then Soweto.
In the second video, a worried Mchunu is seen arriving at the airport in Lanseria, trying to escape, after he heard that the police were searching for him. He then allegedly left the airport in a private jet to KwaZulu-Natal.
“Police are looking for me. If I am arrested, I will not eat prison food. I will die in prison because of the cold and hunger. At least I know more than R3 million will be spent on my funeral, money I don’t even have,” Mchunu said in the video.
In the final video, Mchunu is interviewed on a radio show, where he claims that the looters were sent by the government and the Police Minister Bheki Cele called him to warn him about inciting violence.
A spokesperson for the Mchunu family, Bonginkosi Khanyile, said that they hoped the proceedings would have been concluded for them to return home with Mchunu, but they remain hopeful.
“We are saddened by the situation. But we are hopeful that the proceedings will conclude and he will go home. There is no case against Mchunu. Our language and culture have been prosecuted because of the misinterpretation of the word ’ayikhale’. People who are responsible for looting are those who were engaged in the barbaric acts, not Ngizwe Mchunu,” said Khanyile.
The National Prosecuting Authority Provincial (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Louw- Mjonodwane said releasing Mchunu on bail would undermine public order and peace, therefore, the State has opposed bail.
The bail hearing was expected to continue on Thursday, as the defence presents evidence in support of Mchunu’s release.