BRITS, October 31 – The bail hearing of a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) member accused of the attempted murder of a rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) member was postponed at the Brits Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The case against Nkosinathi Mantashe, 37, was postponed to November 8 for judgement.
The State alleges that Mantashe shot and wounded Malibongwe Mdazo in Mooinooi near Brits on July 22, in an apparent fight for turf between the NUM and Amcu in the platinum mines around Rustenburg.
Mdazo is the chairperson of Amcu at Lonmin’s Western Platinum mine. He was reportedly shot five times.
Advocate Katlego Magano, for Mantashe, asked the court to grant bail, arguing that the State brought an inexperienced police officer to testify even when the State claimed its case was strong.
“The State witness lacks experience, he put before this court that it was the first time he handles a case involving firearms, he does not know how long it will take for forensic reports to be available…is it in the interest of justice to keep the accused in custody while we wait for experts to tell the court when the forensic report will be available?”
He stated that it was shocking that investigating officer Sergeant Khunou wanted to politicise the matter.
“We are here [in court] not for the conflict between NUM and Amcu, we are here for an allegation of attempted murder.”
He questioned how Mdazo heard a warning bullet, got out of his car and went to a man firing at him, managed to grabbed him by his clothes and wrestled for a gun, instead of running away.
“There is no such thing, we only see that in the movies. Here, we deal with real issues.”
He told the court that it would be in the interests of justice to release Mantashe on bail as he was not a flight risk, his life was not in danger and he would not interfere with the police investigation or witnesses.
In his bail application, Mantashe stated that he was married with two minor children, he was employed by Lonmin and lives in a mine house in Mooinooi. He owned property with an estimated value of R300,000.
Prosecutor Cassius Mona told the court that the blunders of the police did not have a bearing on the State’s case.
“There were procedural blunders on the side of the police. Does the procedural blunders of the police have a bearing on the State’s case? The compliant made a statement and the statement did not change,” he said.
He said Mdazo was shot on July 22 and the police obtained a statement from him on August 16 in which he stated that Mantashe shot him.
“The police obtained a statement from the accused on September 17. Instead of arresting him, he was released, this is a procedural blunder on the side of the police.”
He told the court that the police blunders let to Mdazo complaining to Amcu about his case and Amcu enlisted private investigators who approached the police management in the North West for an arrest to be effected.
He argued that Mdazo knew Mantashe and when he got out of his car Mantashe was not shooting until when he grabbed Mantashe by his clothes and the two wrestled for the gun.
Mona said Mantashe should not be granted bail as he would not stand trial because he now knew the magnitude of the case against him and there was a strong possibility that his release on bail would spark public protests, particularly in the mines.
“The accused knew the complainant, if released on bail he will go and finish off what he have started [killing Mdazo].
The state has proved that it is in the interest of justice not to grant bail,” he said.
The case was postponed to November 8 for magistrate Reagan Rosenberg to make a ruling on the bail application.
Amcu members protested outside the court and others packed the courtroom. They sang with joy when they heard Mantashe would be in custody until at least Wednesday next week.
Mantashe’s arrest followed a spate of killing of Amcu members in the Marikana and Rustenburg areas.
The fierce rivalry between Amcu and NUM stems from the August 2012 strike in the North West platinum belt which left 44 people dead. Thirty four Lonmin mineworkers were killed on August 16, 2012 when the police opened fire on them, while ten others, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed by striking workers in the week leading up to the August 16 Marikana massacre.
– African News Agency (ANA).