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Syndicate accused in new bail bid

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There were a number of factors that warranted accused bail application on new facts.

From LEFT: Luthando Mangaliso and Trevor Mohapi appeared in the Kimberley Magistrates Court yesterday. Picture: Danie van der Lith

WHILE two of the three accused alleged to be members of a criminal syndicate that has been defrauding members of the public by impersonating law enforcement officials abandoned their bail application on new facts yesterday, their co-accused, Trevor Mohapi, is due to return to the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Monday after the State was given an opportunity to confirm the contents of his affidavit.

Having already spent more than a year in custody, Mohapi, along with Maloba Chimboyo and Luthando Mangaliso, returned to the dock yesterday to apply to be released pending the outcome of their trial.

After making an earlier application to the Northern Cape High Court to intervene, Chimboyo and Mangaliso opted to abandon yesterday’s bail application, while Mohapi introduced new facts into evidence in an effort to justify his release from custody.

In an affidavit read into evidence yesterday, Mohapi stated that there were a number of factors that warranted his bail application on new facts.

These included the fact that he has already been in custody for more than a year without his trial commencing, while a number of charges that were due to be brought against him were yet to materialise.

Among these is a case of assault – which was opened by another co-accused, Jonas Riet, who was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, in March after entering into a plea agreement – that Mohapi has yet to be formally charged for.

Mohapi further pointed out that, apart from the testimony of a “204” witness, there was no evidence implicating him in some of the charges he is currently facing, adding that he had not been lawfully kept in custody on all charges.

Mohapi also stated that, if released, he would not be able to influence State witnesses as their testimonies had already been collected by investigators.

While Chimboyo and Mangaliso abandoned their application yesterday, prosecutor Cornelia Deetlefs requested a further postponement for Mohapi’s matter, stating that there were nine new facts introduced into evidence yesterday that were not in an earlier affidavit and had only been brought to her attention shortly before yesterday’s proceedings got under way.

“The defence only informed us today that there were now other facts,” she told the court, adding that there was also the pending application before the Northern Cape High Court that had been brought by the accused, which was yet to be finalised.

Before adjourning for the day, Magistrate Pauline Coollen emphasised that she was granting the State’s request for a postponement exclusively to allow the prosecution to confirm the new facts that were introduced yesterday, adding that Mohapi was justified in making this application for bail.

“The court must make a decision based on the information that is given,” explained Coollen. “In a bail application on new facts, this information must be new and relevant. It cannot just comprise of a reshuffle of existing evidence.

“While your affidavit would constitute new facts, the court only has your affidavit (as new facts) and must be aware that the information is true and as you claim it to be.

“For that purpose alone (for the State to confirm the information) I am granting the State’s request for a postponement.”