Alleged Islamic State loyalists are a no-show in court because of elections
Three alleged Islamic State loyalists failed to appear in the Verulam Magistrate's Court on Tuesday due to the "security risks" of transporting them in the run-up to national elections.
Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife Fatima Patel, 28, and their Malawian boarder Ahmad Jackson Mussa, 35 were due to make a brief appearance in court where they stand accused of kidnapping and murdering Cape Town-based British botanists Rodney and Rachel Saunders in February last year.
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The state contends that the three are loyal to the international terror group and had been in the process of planning terror attacks on South African soil.
However, the three did not appear as senior state prosecutor Torie Pretorius informed magistrate Rajesh Parshotam that the accused could not appear due to security risks.
"Due to the elections, there is a problem with security surrounding the transporting of people here," he said.
In August 2018, it emerged that there was a credible threat of an audacious escape plan for the three while being transported to prison. At the time, the investigating officer told the court that an informant had laid bare the escape plans.
Present in the gallery, however, was Farhad Hoomer, the alleged mastermind behind the orchestrating of a Verulam mosque attack in May 2018, as well as a series of firebomb attacks at retail outlets in the months that followed.
Hoomer, together with 11 other men, appeared in the Verulam Magistrate's Court on Monday in connection with a string of terrorism-related charges as well as murder, attempted murder, arson and extortion. They were arrested in a co-ordinated Hawks raid on October 5.
Legal aid representative, Nondumiso Zulu, representing the accused, noted her discontent with the length of time the accused had been detained following their arrest.
She told the court that it had been a year since the trio had been arrested and the state had not yet finalised its investigations.
Pretorius responded by noting that it was a complex matter that had strong international links.
"Your worship, you must remember that this is a very complex matter. We are dealing with terror financing which relates to Somalia and the Netherlands. Investigations need to follow a formal diplomatic route," he told Parshotam.
The case was remanded to May 14 for a provisional indictment.
The previous day, defence counsel for Hoomer and his co-accused called for national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi to investigate delays in the case.