Court dismisses application for access to documents in cash-in-transit heist case involving axed ANC employee
The Roodepoort Magistrate's Court has dismissed an application for access to police dockets by defence lawyers representing four cash-in-transit heist suspects, including former ANC employee Errol Velile Present.
"The application by the defence is premature and is dismissed," Magistrate John Baloyi told the packed court.
Baloyi said the defence maintained that it could not proceed with the bail application until it had received the contents of the dockets.
He added that the Criminal Procedure Act states that no accused shall for the purposes of bail have access to any documentation.
He said that the prosecutor had informed the court that investigations were ongoing and that police would be conducting an identity parade soon.
Present appeared in the dock on Friday alongside co-accused Zakhele Zondi, 37, Itumeleng Manama, 40, and Bheki Biyela, 36.
The ruling comes after a push by the lawyers for access to the dockets of the four men following their objection to the new charge sheet.
Initially, the men were only facing charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Prosecutor Paseka Temeki told Magistrate Baloyi on Tuesday that charges of attempted murder and possession of stolen vehicles were later added to the charge sheet.
Advocate Nthabiseng Mohomune, for Manama, told the court earlier on Friday that the documents were relevant for the defence's case.
She was also standing in for Present's lawyer, Ben Modumaela, who was unable to attend proceedings.
Mohomune said the State had not given the court any sustainable reasons why disclosure should not be ordered by the court.
"The State has not shown the court what prejudice they would suffer should the statements be handed over to the defence."
Brighton Hlayisani Taula, who is representing Zondi, submitted that the court could not separate the bail, trial or pre-trial proceedings.
"The contents and the submissions we are going to make during the bail application, it may be used against the accused in trial or pre-trial.
"Our application is to seek discovery of the document that are relevant for the purposes of preparation for the bail application," Taula said.
The men were arrested last month by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department's K9 Unit and Crime Intelligence in connection with a heist in Dobsonville, Soweto, earlier this month where a security guard was shot and wounded.
Present's lawyer Modumaela argued at the time that Present was not found in possession of suspected stolen vehicles, saying that he had been walking at the time of his arrest.
According to Modumaela, four witnesses were supposed to point out the perpetrators of the robbery. However, Present and his co-accused were not identified, he said.
He added that Present would object to a further identity parade because his picture was distributed on social media.
Earlier on Friday, while walking down to the court's holding cells, Present handed a woman what appeared to be a cellphone.
On July 19, Police Minister Bheki Cele said Present had been linked to three other cash heists.
"This is almost his third cash heist, this guy. It is not the first one. Two are in the North West, plus this one (in Soweto). Indeed, we have established who he is. He works for the organising department on a temporary basis at Luthuli House," Cele said at the time.
Cele said he also had a drunk driving case against his name.
Last year, the Sunday Times reported that Present had been introduced to a top land reform department official at a land summit organised by former minister of rural development and land reform Gugile Nkwinti.
Eight months later, Bekendvlei farm in Limpopo was purchased for R97m and handed over to Present.
It is alleged that the department official bypassed the required procedures and that a day after the deal went through, Nkwinti was the speaker at Present's lavish wedding.
At the time, Nkwinti denied the allegations, however, the details of the deal emerged in a forensic investigation report by Deloitte.
The report apparently recommended that Nkwinti be charged for possible corruption.