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Community up in arms over hit-and-run bail

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Barkly West residents have accused the justice system of being biased and protecting those in political and prominent positions

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COMMUNITY members in Barkly West have accused the justice system of being biased and protecting those in political and prominent positions.

The allegations were made during the court appearance of ANC regional deputy-secretary, Wende Marekwa, on Friday. He is facing a charge of culpable homicide following a hit-and-run incident on the night of August 5 in Pike Street in Mataleng.

According to reports, Marekwa handed himself over to the police the day after he allegedly hit and killed Alfonso Thabang Alfonso.

Community members on Friday protested outside the Barkly West Magistrate’s Court during the court appearance of Wende. They accused the law of taking sides as the suspect was granted bail of R1 000 when he handed himself over to police.

“The accident that occurred is a sad story as it separates the people with money and the poor. It appears, that if you have money you can get away with a crime while, when you are poor, not even the law can protect you,” those protesting at the court claimed.

“How on earth can a person, who allegedly took the life of another and then ran away from the scene of an accident, receive special treatment from the police. The accused was even granted bail last Sunday, even though he did not appear in court.”

They also claimed that the prosecutor was out of the Province but was called to prioritise the bail of the accused.

Provincial spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Phaladi Shuping, said the accused was granted police bail and that this was not out of the ordinary.

“There is a lack in educating people on how the law operates. People do not know that there is something such as police bail. The fact that the accused handed himself over to the police showed that he was not a flight risk and not avoiding prosecution.

“There are also factors that were addressed and considered in order to grant him police bail. We are not saying people should go and commit a crime and then hand themselves over after the incident, however, there are conditions where accused are released on police bail,” Shuping said.

He added that it may be that because the accused occupies a prominent position, that the people have taken interest in the matter and are only now informed about police bail.

“But this is not the first time an accused is granted police bail. In such matters, the prosecutor is informed and also has to look at the factors to determine whether an accused is eligible for police bail,” he said.

Community members also pointed a finger at the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the ANC for not acting against the accused.

“It is known that he now has a case to answer in court, yet the PEC and the Regional Executive Committee (REC) are not taking any action against the accused and releasing him from leading the ANC. What is so special about this matter that he had to get preferred treatment,” they asked.

The ANC’s provincial secretary, Deshi Ngxanga, said they will wait for the law to take its course in the matter.

“As the ANC in the Province, we will await the legal processes to unfold and give space to the law enforcement agencies to conclude with the case. Thereafter, the ANC’s processes will unfold. We urge community members in the Dikgatlong area to remain calm.

“We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family members and friends of the deceased,” said Ngxanga.

The case was postponed to September.