Stabbed Forest High pupil was facing armed robbery charge: NPA

10 June 2019 - 17:21 By Nonkululeko Njilo
A police vehicle outside Forest High School, south of Johannesburg, on June 6 2019. Police are patrolling the area after a pupil stabbed another to death outside the school.
A police vehicle outside Forest High School, south of Johannesburg, on June 6 2019. Police are patrolling the area after a pupil stabbed another to death outside the school.
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

Daniel Bakwela, the 18-year-old Forest High pupil who was stabbed to death last week, was facing an armed robbery charge.

The National Prosecuting Authority made the shock revelation on Monday, the same day Bakwela's alleged killer, Mohammed Moela, was granted R5,000 bail in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court.

The decision to grant bail was met with anger from Bakwela's family and the Turffontein community, which had previously slammed the NPA for its decision not to oppose bail.

However, the NPA's Phindi Mjonondwane revealed that Bakwela and one of the other pupils wounded in the incident last week had, in fact, previously had their own run-ins with the law.

"The deceased and one of his friends who was stabbed in this case are actually facing criminal charges in this same court. They were supposed to appear in August. Deciding whether or not bail should be opposed, the state had to consider a whole lot of facts. The decision was purely based on facts at hand," said Mjonondwane.

Details of the incident were not provided.

She said the NPA had met with Bakwela's family and explained that part of the reason it would not oppose bail was that Bakwela had been facing criminal charges over an incident that took place in 2018. The NPA had also requested his death certificate so charges could be formally withdrawn.

It took at least four days for magistrate Basimane Molwane to hand down judgment in the bail application following a material defect in the investigating officer's affidavit, and an incorrect date and paragraph in Bakwela's affidavit, as well as a lack of answers on the school leaving policy regarding age by the department of education.

In his bail application, through an affidavit read by his attorney, Mudi Mavhengani, Moela claimed that he had been under physical attack and stabbed his peers in self-defence.

He argued that he was a first-time offender and a grade 11 student in the process of writing exams.

Molwana said Bakwela had a constitutional right to life, while Moela also had a right to a fair trial and education.

"The aim of bail is not to punish the accused. In terms of the law, every person who is detained for any crime has a right to apply for his release," said Molwana.

Moela's bail conditions include that he relocate to an alternative address, does not interfere with state witnesses, does not to enter Turffontein and Forest High School until his trial is finalised, must surrender his passport and may not leave the country without consulting the investigating officer.

The magistrate also ordered the Gauteng education department to make alternative arrangements to allow him to complete his exams, and consider moving him to a different school.

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona did not respond to questions regarding compliance to the order and whether arrangements had already been made for Moela.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he would monitor the case.

"Ill-discipline will not be allowed to persist in our environment. We will monitor the case closely and ensure that justice is served," he said.

Moela will return to court on July 10.