Johannesburg - All eight accused in the “bluelight” highway assault case will spend a weekend in custody.
The suspects appeared in the Randburg Magistrates Court, in a bid to get bail this week, but the state is opposing that, amid one of its witnesses receiving threats.
The threatening message sent to a state witness says, “You have made enemies by supplying the video to the media.”
This week, the lawyers of the accused tried to convince the court to release them on bail because they work in the police services, and they submitted that they are not a flight risk.
However, Magistrate Hleziphi Mkhasibe, said judgement on the bail application will be delivered on Tuesday.
The suspects are VIP Protectors attached to Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security detail; they were recorded assaulting civilians on the N1 highway in Johannesburg on July 2, this year.
NPA Gauteng spokesperson, Phindi Mjonondwane, confirmed opposing bail.
“We sighted the threats that were sent to one of our witnesses, and therefore we are opposing their release on bail for all eight accused persons, citing that the lives of the witnesses of the state in this matter are at risk should they be released,” said Mjonondwane.
She said the court will do so after hearing the arguments from both parties; it will have to evaluate all the evidential material that was presented in court and thereafter, weigh the interest of justice against the accused before court as well as any other evidential material that they presented in court.
The suspects are, Shadrack Kojoana, Johannes Mampuru, Pomso Mofokeng, Harmans Ramokhonami, Phineas Boshielo, Churchill Mkhize, Lesibana Rambau, and Moses Tshidada. They all pleaded not guilty and face 12 charges, including assault, malicious damage to property, discharging a firearm, contravening the Road Traffic Act, reckless and negligent driving, and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
The suspects, who were not ashamed when assaulting a motorist and two passengers who are attached to the military, continued their trend of hiding their faces with surgical masks, hoodies and jackets. This prompted some South Africans to call on the court to unmask them.
That is to be seen when they appear in court next week.
On Monday, advocate, Elize Le Roux, reading an affidavit from the investigating officer, said that three of four people attached to the military who were off duty on the day of the assault and driving in a Polo were assaulted.
The driver of the Polo, upon seeing a black car behind him, thought they were being hijacked.
The affidavit read that the driver feared being hijacked and continued driving as he witnessed the car behind him and someone brandishing a firearm.
He also remembered being boxed in by two cars. One man banged the glass with a firearm, but he did not succeed. He then went to the back of the car, and the rear window shattered.
The court also heard that “Mr Koen”, who had shared the video, had received death threats and filed a charge of intimidation.
He is one of the state witnesses who will testify when the trial starts.
One of the suspects said the state has no case against them; he claimed that they were arrested because of the media frenzy and civil groups applying pressure.
The accused wants the court to grant them bail of between R1 000 and R2 000.