Four Phoenix unrest accused granted bail after spending 100 days at Westville Prison

By Charlene Somduth Time of article published Nov 17, 2021

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Durban: After more than 100 days of being incarcerated at Westville Prison, four of the Phoenix men arrested in connection with the killings during the July unrest in the area, are out on bail.

Sholan Reddy, 33, Kirosh Maharaj, 31, Sumeeth Maharaj, 29, and Khalik Mohammed, 59, were each granted R5 000 bail.

The money was paid and they returned home last Friday.

The day before they appeared in the Verulam Magistrate's Court with the rest of their co-accused; Yobandra Govender, 46, Rinesh Mohan, 30, Mehmood Khan, 50, Mckallen Govender, 20, and Christopher Pillay, 51. These accused were denied bail.

All have been charged with murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, malicious damage to property and public violence.

The charges stem from an attack and the killing of Dumisani Mchunu and the attempted murder of Sipho Mabaso. The two had gone to a garage on Northern Drive in Phoenix to buy bread and cigarettes, when a group of men attacked them with a variety of weapons, including golf sticks and hockey sticks. Mchunu died near the garage and his BMW was set alight.

Mabaso was robbed of his cellphone, ID, house keys and R500 in cash but managed to flee. The incident was captured on CCTV footage.

Thabani Buthelui, the State prosecutor, opposed bail on the basis that all the accused had acted in common purpose.

He said there would be a public outcry if they were released on bail.

While handing down judgment in the bail application, Magistrate Irfaan Khalil said the attack had the traits of mob justice or lynch law.

"Two innocent people were not only attacked without warning but were chased and hunted down and assaulted with various weapons."

The injuries the men suffered were consistent with blunt force injuries that one would expect if golf sticks, hockey sticks and sticks were used in an attack, he said.

''One can only imagine the horrific pain and utter disbelief at what was happening, that the deceased and complainant had to endure. 'All they intended to do was pur-chase bread and cigarettes. There was not even the slightest indication that they may have been looters."

He said while Reddy, Kirosh Maharaj, Sumeeth Mahan' and Mohammed were present and armed at the scene, they appeared to be bystanders and did not take part in the assault or any of the other offences alleged by the State.

Two of them Kirosh Maharaj and Sumeeth Maharaj, only arrived at the scene when most of the events had already unfolded. Khalil said Reddy only accompanied Pillay and Mohammed.

"There is little evidence against him (Mohammed). The release of accused one to four and nine at this stage will undermine or jeopardise public confidence in the criminal justice system which is already under severe strain."

The case was adjourned to December 13.

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