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Heated arguments at church attack bail application, ruling next week

05 August 2020 - 14:02 By penwell dlamini
On Wednesday lawyers representing the 42 men accused of last month's attack at the Modise church wrapped up their presentations in the bail applications at the Westonaria magistrate’s court.
On Wednesday lawyers representing the 42 men accused of last month's attack at the Modise church wrapped up their presentations in the bail applications at the Westonaria magistrate’s court.
Image: 123RF/Stockstudio44

Judgment in the bail applications of 42 suspects linked to the murders in the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) in Zuurbekom will be handed down next Tuesday.

On Wednesday lawyers representing the 42 men accused of the attack at the Modise church last month wrapped up their presentations in the bail applications at the Westonaria magistrate’s court.

Barry Roux, Eric Bryer and Frans Mphatswe argued there was nothing linking their clients to the attack at the IPHC headquarters in Zuurbekom on July 11.

Roux lashed out at the investigating officer Sgt George Maditse, accusing him of failing to explain to the court what police meant when they said they found “a lot of spent cartridges” on the church's property.

“That question was significant but more significant was the evasiveness of his answer. We all know that when you shoot, the cartridge exits the gun and falls substantially in that area. We know it means a lot of shots were fired from the inside of the church. It shows the investigating officer thought he must, at all costs, oppose and answer the question in a way that would be bad for the applicants,” Roux said.

He argued that the accused had gone to the IPHC headquarters to help their colleagues after they were alerted about an emergency.

Roux said the state could not link the accused to the attack as the accused only arrived on the scene when the police were already present.

Five people were killed when a group of armed men attacked other people who were on the church premises in the early hours of July 11. The attack is believed to  be part of an ongoing power struggle over the leadership of the church.

After arrests on the weekend of the attack, 42 men are applying for bail.

Bryer told the court: “They had no idea of going there for a coup. The shooting was over [when the suspects arrived]. They were members of the church and they had every justifiable reason to go and investigate if they could assist.”

Mphatswe said the state was relying on the principle of common purpose to link accused numbers 1 to 18 to the crime because they were not on the scene of the crime.

He was referring to the people who were arrested in a Toyota Quantum and a BMW which were allegedly headed to the church.

Mphatswe said the state’s argument that there was a 9mm firearm found in the Quantum with the serial number removed and three firearms found inside the BMW, two not registered in the country and the other belonging to a Mr Subramoney, was not good enough.

He said the accused needed to be present at the scene of the crime and be aware of the assault taking place in order for the state to prove common purpose.

“They were just security [guards] being collected for work. They never had a meeting in the morning. They never had a parade where they got instructions that today we are going to do this and that,” he said.

Prosecutor Moses Tshamano said: “The state will argue that this attack was planned. It is not something that just happened. The state will argue that the accused one to 17 were part of the group that was inside the church. That is why it was stated they were communicating with accused 22, who was already inside. He was arrested with the group coming out of the church.

“It is my view that accused numbers 1 to 18 all work for accused number 22, who has a security company. They were all requested to come there by accused number 22. It is our view they were not going to work. They were going there to attack,” said Tshamano.

Judgment on the bail applications will be heard on August 11.

SowetanLIVE


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