Sentencing proceedings should have commenced on Tuesday in the Bellville Regional Court, but financial woes on the part of the accused caused magistrate Nonkosi Saba to postpone the case to August 18 instead. The men are to be sentenced for violating the Civil Aviation Act.
As the proceedings started, the defence team, advocate Pearl Mathibela and attorney Ntuthuko Msomi, told the court that they had agreed with prosecutor Natasha Moshodi to the postponement. Mathibela said the case had previously been postponed to Tuesday, to enable the nine accused men to raise additional funding that was needed.
The men had been unable to do so, she said. This would normally have caused the withdrawal of the defence team – and a protracted delay in the proceedings, as the men would likely have sought free legal aid representation.
The duly appointed legal aid lawyer would then also have needed time for preparation. Mathibela said the delay would not have been in the interests of justice, and she and Msomi had accordingly decided to finalise the matter.
Had they received the additional funding, they would have prepared, and been ready on Tuesday, to present testimony and final argument in mitigation of sentence. However, having only taken the decision on Tuesday, to finalise the case anyway, they nevertheless needed time to prepare, she added.
The men are out on R2,000 bail each. According to the charge sheet, the accused were all residents of informal housing estates, which fell within the jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town.
The housing estates were provided with portable toilets, but a dispute had arisen between the nine accused and other residents over the City’s perceived neglect of sanitation in the estates. The perceived neglect included the infrequent and irregular removal of human waste, in accordance with procedures agreed to between the City and the service provider, the charge sheet said.
The incident at the airport happened on June 25, 2013, around midday.
According to the charge sheet, the men were in possession of receptacles containing human waste, which they emptied at the entrance to, and inside, the departure hall.