Tensions spill over outside court after Machadodorp security officers granted bail
The decision to grant bail to two security officers who allegedly assaulted a community member in Machadodorp, Mpumalanga, caused a furore among protesters who were outside court on Friday.
Bruce Botha, 29, and Wayne Swart, 20, who were charged with assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, were granted bail of R500 each in the Belfast Magistrate's Court on Friday morning after the State did not oppose bail.
Upon hearing the decision, protesters became agitated and started pelting stones at the court. Police fired rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the rowdy crowd.
Once protesters settled down, both Botha and Swart climbed into a bakkie with family and friends, leaving the court undetected by protesters who were at that stage singing struggle songs and marching up and down the street.
The EFF's Nkangala region chairperson Poppy Moila told journalists that the granting of bail to both accused, despite the alleged crime being a racially motivated attack, had brought the legal system into question.
"If it was a black person assaulting a white person, the situation would have been different. It is time South African people are treated with dignity," Moila said.
Speaking about the incident, which was caught on video on Monday, Moila said Botha and Swart were both very cruel.
"You can see they did it without shame because they knew very well that nothing is going to happen to them. They knew that when they get to court, they will be granted bail."
The National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in Mpumalanga, Monica Nyuswa, said the State did not oppose bail because both accused are first-time offenders, were not a flight risk and were known within their communities.
Store, trucks burnt
Machadodorp residents went on a rampage on Tuesday evening, burning a store and trucks after the alleged attack by Swart and Botha.
A video recording of the incident shows two men allegedly trying to arrest another and dragging him to a bakkie. Onlookers protest against the treatment of the man.
Police spokesperson Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe told News24 that both accused work for a local security company and that they were called out by a shop owner in town after the man in the video got into an altercation with a shop employee.
Mpumalanga community safety, security and liaison MEC Pat Ngomane said the attack constituted vigilantism, which was the worst form of barbarism and should not be tolerated regardless of how strong individuals feel about any wrongdoing.
In a statement, the ANC said it was shocked at what appeared to be a racially motivated attack.
"Their shameless disregard of the police officers at the scene, who clearly were trying to reason with them, demonstrates their disdain for the rule of law," said ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe.
"Such conduct has no place in our society and those who believe they are above the law should be ashamed to call themselves South African."
Both security officers were arrested shortly after the incident, but despite the arrests, outraged community members took matters into their own hands and burnt the shop and two trucks after blocking a road in the small town.
Botha and Swart are expected back in court on September 28.
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