11 former military vets kept in prison as bail bid postponed to Friday
Eleven former military veterans arrested for their roles in the alleged ministerial “hostage” situation last week will remain behind bars until Friday, when they will make their formal bail applications in the Pretoria magistrate’s court sitting in the Kgosi Mampuru prison.
Fifty-six people were originally arrested, but charges were dropped against three of them after they were identified at staff members at the Saint George Hotel, where the drama unfolded.
On Tuesday, 42 of the accused were released on R500 bail each.
However, the 11 might find it harder to be released on bail, or could face having to pay a higher bail fee.
“In respect of these 11 accused persons, with accused [number] 53 in absentia, the accused persons have relevant previous convictions, including murder [and] robbery. The state is averring a schedule 5 bail application against these men,” said state advocate Sanet Jacobson.
Accused number 53 is in hospital.
All accused are facing 27 charges: one count of conspiracy to kidnap and 26 counts for kidnapping.
The state has not ruled out the possibility of adding a charge of contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.
Defence minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele were among those allegedly prevented from leaving a meeting at the Tshwane hotel on Thursday evening.
The police intervened after the veterans barricaded the doors with chairs and refused to allow the three officials to leave.
The Sunday Times reported that the group’s demands included the payment of R4.2m each to 9,000 veterans, at a total cost of more than R37bn.
Earlier on Tuesday, when the bail proceedings got under way, the accused men and women were divided into three groups: those with verified addresses, those with unverified addresses and no pending cases, and those with relevant previous convictions and pending matters.
Legal representative Dali Mpofu had argued that the bail amounts suggested by the state — of R2,000 and R3,000 — were too high as most of the accused were unemployed.
The state told the court they are relying on common purposes in the matter.
“Some went to the doors, some sang incitement songs. In terms of association, in terms of participation, I can’t inform the court at this stage that accused [number] 1 was the one who shouted at the minister,” said Jacobson.
“The videos need to be analysed for that, and for that state needs time. So at this stage we cannot say 'accused [number] 1 did this, accused this did that'. We are relying on common purpose and say everyone was actively involved.”
The state said it had verified the addresses of the first 13 accused, and it couldn’t verify the other addresses due to time and the fact that the other accused were from outside Gauteng.
“The task team didn’t sleep last night. They went physically to the addresses of the 13 people whose addresses could be confirmed,” said Jacobson.
Mpofu also raised an issue of continuous assault of the accused. He said their cellphones were confiscated without permission and they were forced to hand over their pin numbers for investigation.
The matter has been postponed to Friday for the bail application of the remaining 11 accused, while the matter for the 42 who had been granted bail was postponed to February 1.