Bail for EFF members charged with public violence

Local EFF leader benefits from errors in police dockets

FULL HOUSE: The Port Alfred Magistrate’s court was dominated by EFF members in support of three members who appeared on public violence charges last Thursday Picture: TK MTIKI

APPEARING on public violence charges, repeated efforts to deny bail to local EFF local leader Xolisa Runeli were unsuccessful on Monday due what appeared to be wrong evidence.

Runeli and two co-accused, Onela Msesiwe, 25, and Lindani Tshula, 25, were granted bail of R4 000 each. Although Msesiwe and Tshula had already received bail last Thursday, Runeli spent the weekend in jail as the prolonged bail hearing had to be postponed to Monday.

The three were arrested after incidents of alleged assault and skirmishes in Campbell Street during an EFF protest which took place on June 18 and 19.

Msesiwe and Tshula were granted bail of R4 000 each on the grounds that they did not have pending cases other than the one they were facing on the day. The two accused were granted bail on condition that they would not interfere with state witness and jeopardise evidence.

However, when it came to Runeli, one day was not enough to conclude his bail hearing, and the case continued on Monday.

Prosecutor Johan Carstens’ grounds in seeking to deny him bail were based on the nature of Runeli’s previous cases. The prosecutor said Runeli kept on committing the same offences.

When he appeared last Thursday, Runeli was linked to several criminal charges such as malicious damage to property, obstructing the police, assaulting municipal director Lazola Payi and a police officer, crimen injuria, resisting arrest, blocking the road, disrupting service delivery at the municipality, trespassing at 43 Air School and disrupting the Ndlambe Ratepayers Forum meeting with municipal officials.

Taking the stand, Runeli vowed that the allegations against him were false and further swore to challenge them through legitimate channels.

Runeli’s legal representative Basil Williams dwelt on wrong information being used to justify denying bail to his client. According to the dockets read by the state witness, the incidents used to charge Runeli occurred on June 19, whereas they took place on June 18. Based on this error, Runeli appeared to have done nothing wrong on June 19 since the incidents he was intended to be charged for occurred a day earlier.

The state also introduced other dockets that Runeli was not charged for on the day, like trespassing at 43 Air School. The prosecutor attempted to justify that they were attached to him but magistrate L Figlan argued that Runeli was only facing three charges on the day and that the state could raise other cases later on, not in the bail application.

Detective Constable John Groep testified that police were at the scene when the incidents happened on June 18, but had only arrested the accused on the following day. The detective could not say why. The state further seemed to have hampered its case by revealing that there were more than 50 protestors at the scene and yet only managed to arrest three people at a later stage.

The justification from the state was that only three names were reported. Even with this answer, no justification was provided on why people were not arrested immediately at the scene. Runeli’s attorney used the state’s testimony to the advantage of his client.

What appeared to make thing worse was that Runeli was arrested at the Port Alfred police station while he was in the process of laying charges against police who had allegedly assaulted him. His legal representative claimed that his client was denied an opportunity to exercise his right.

The case has been postponed till July 30 for further investigation. The magistrate granted bail to Runeli on condition that he would not participate in an illegal protest. As per agreement between the state and defence in court, Runeli is further banned from going to the municipal offices for a political agenda. He is only allowed to access the municipal offices for personal circumstances.

 

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