Bun­gle leaves min­ers locked up

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - MUR­RAY SWART STAFF RE­PORTER

SEVEN ar­ti­sanal min­ers, who were ar­rested for tres­pass­ing, will have spent two weeks in cus­tody await­ing their bail hear­ing, which is sched­uled for next week.

This comes af­ter pro­ceed­ings were post­poned for a sec­ond time yes­ter­day, in or­der to give in­ves­ti­ga­tors ad­di­tional time to col­lect ba­sic ev­i­dence fol­low­ing a long week­end where po­lice failed to con­firm cer­tain in­for­ma­tion such as the res­i­den­tial ad­dresses of the ac­cused.

On Tues­day, Septem­ber 19, Ben Kwas, Vic­tor Eras­mus, Boeta van Wyk, Isaac Tshabadira, Mo­hale Hla­joe, Der­rick Gouws and Kaibara Mo­hale were ar­rested for tres­pass­ing on a Kim­ber­ley Ekapa Min­ing Joint Ven­ture (KEM-JV) site near Green­point.

They made their first ap­pear­ance on Thursday last week, when the mat­ter was post­poned for seven days in or­der for the in­ves­ti­ga­tors to con­firm their res­i­den­tial ad­dresses and prior crim­i­nal records.

How­ever, hav­ing al­ready spent more than a week in cus­tody, the ac­cused were yes­ter­day forced to re­turn to the cells un­til next week Tues­day as the court heard that no progress had been made in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, War­rant Of­fi­cer Her­cul Mitchell, who was sum­moned to the court by Mag­is­trate Lance Roach yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, the rel­e­vant docket was de­liv­ered to their of­fices on Fri­day af­ter­noon, af­ter staff had al­ready left for the long week­end.

This doc­u­ment went unat­tended un­til Tues­day this week, when it was re­turned to the court.

While tes­ti­fy­ing, Mitchell said that he had only learned of the bail ap­pli­ca­tion yes­ter­day morn­ing when he was con­tacted by the State to ap­pear.

With three decades in law en­force­ment, the de­fence ar­gued that Mitchell was ex­pe­ri­enced enough to be fa­mil­iar with court pro­ceed­ings and should have re­alised that dock­ets were re­turned to the court prior to a bail ap­pli­ca­tion.

“You should know from ex­pe­ri­ence that there is a rea­son why the docket is re­turned to the court,” the min­ers’ le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Sharon Davids, told Mitchell.

“These ac­cused were ar­rested on Septem­ber 19. Surely you must have re­alised why the docket was back at court.”

Davids em­pha­sised that her clients had a con­sti­tu­tional right to a speedy trial and were be­ing kept in cus­tody un­fairly be­cause po­lice had failed to per­form their du­ties.

“It is un­fair to keep them in cus­tody in or­der to give the State time to pre­pare their case be­cause the po­lice were neg­li­gent,” she said.

How­ever, Roach said that while he had se­ri­ously con­sid­ered the ac­cused’s re­lease, he was un­able to make this rul­ing.

“While the docket was avail­able to the SAPS af­ter the first ap­pear­ance, it is un­for­tu­nate that the 25th was a pub­lic hol­i­day, while the docket was re­turned to the court on the 26th,” said the mag­is­trate.

“The ac­cused have been in cus­tody since Septem­ber 19 and there is no ev­i­dence from the IO that there was any at­ten­tion paid to con­firm­ing ad­dresses.

“The court must be con­vinced that the ac­cused will make them­selves avail­able to stand trial and won’t com­mit more of­fences if re­leased on bail. The court is not con­vinced that this will be the case as ad­dresses haven’t been con­firmed.”

The ac­cused’s for­mal bail ap­pli­ca­tion will take place on Tues­day. Danie van der Lith

SUP­PORT: Ad­dress­ing ar­ti­sanal min­ers out­side the Kim­ber­ley Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day, was Pro­vin­cial Co­or­di­na­tor of Min­ing Af­fected Com­mu­ni­ties United in Ac­tion, Pa­trick Masilo. Pic­ture:

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