National 16.8.2016 05:08 am

‘Terror twins’ case takes high court detour

Wasiela Thulsie, centre, mother of Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie, leave the Johannesburg Magistrates’
Court yesterday. Inset: members of the Tactical Response Team, who monitored the case, also leave court. Pictures: Alaister Russell

Wasiela Thulsie, centre, mother of Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie, leave the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court yesterday. Inset: members of the Tactical Response Team, who monitored the case, also leave court. Pictures: Alaister Russell

Despite much initial hilarity that one of their terror ‘weapons’ turned out to be paintball equipment, the magistrate ruled the young suspects were arrested lawfully.

Terrorism-accused Tony-Lee and Brandon-Lee Thulsie have taken their bid to challenge their arrest to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg after Magistrate Pieter Du Plessis ruled yesterday the state had had enough evidence to lawfully arrest and detain the 24-year-old twins in early July.

The twins’ mother, Wasiela Thulsie, wept as Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee heard that their bid to challenge their arrest last month on charges relating to the Terrorism Act of 2004 was unsuccessful.

They were arrested after a Hawks raid of their Johannesburg homes in the early hours of July 9. Police recovered several items, including cellphones, laptops and an iPad, on which police found material they allege confirmed their suspicions that the twins may have joined the Islamic State (IS) and were planning to bomb an American mission in Pretoria and property belonging to Jewish institutions.

Police further allege foreign intelligence agencies informed them of the twins’ links to IS. Shortly after hearing that the twins would be remanded in custody, their lawyer, advocate Annelene van den Heever, told the court that she had been instructed to challenge the ruling. Should their application fail, the twins would appear again for their bail hearing, set for Friday.

Van den Heever told The Citizen they hoped to have their application to have the ruling reviewed at the high court before then.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Louwe said the state would oppose the application as it believed it had a strong case.

At the centre of the state’s case is the statement of the twins’ friend, Renaldo Smith, who turned state witness after his own home was searched during the same raid as the twins and he was brought in for questioning.

Smith alleged he was aware of plans by one of the twins to blow up the US embassy building in Pretoria, but had been trying to talk his friend out of it.

However, Smith later tried to retract his statement, accusing police officers of intimidating him and coercing him into writing the statement after interrogating him for four hours. The state denies this.

Du Plessis said in his judgment that following the evidence brought by the prosecution and investigating officer, as well as in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act, which deals with search and seizures, there had been viable reasons for the twins’ arrest.

– simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

 

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