Advocate Barry Roux submitted to the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court that his clients, who are accused of an attack on the International Pentecost Holiness Church, should be released on bail because there was insufficient evidence to justify keeping them behind bars.
Roux represents 23 of the 42 people who were arrested in connection with the attack on the church in which five people were killed on 11 July.
In court on Wednesday, Roux was critical of investigating officer, Detective Sergeant George Maditse, and claimed he was evasive when he answered questions during his evidence.
He said Maditse didn’t submit solid reasons to justify the refusal of bail.
“He (Maditse) wants to keep 42 people in jail for more than a year. When I asked him what does he have against the accused, he replied that he has nothing at this stage. His identification of the accused was compromised,” Roux said.
The defence advocate also told Magistrate Gavin Pillay that Maditse had not submitted sufficient evidence to justify keeping the accused behind bars while they await trial.
“He (Maditse) thought, at all costs, to put evidence in a way that is bad for the accused. You don’t go and round up people you found at the church there, arrest them and charge them for murder. One thing we know is that when police took control of the area, there was no more shooting.
“When police arrived there, there was no shooting taking place and the accused can’t be linked. The suspects arrived at the church when police were there already. I am not blaming the police for arresting people because it was [in the] heat of a moment.
“They are now sitting in jail for almost a month. Can there be evidence that can link them to the murder of their own people? Can they be linked to a murder where cartridges were found inside the church?” asked Roux.
Maditse earlier testified that the accused were all linked to the murder of five people and to spent cartridges that were found inside the church premises. He said police recovered more than 300 spent cartridges inside and outside the church premises.
Roux said the accused had responded to a call that the church was under attack. He added that there were other people who fled the scene before the police arrived.
“Those who fled could have committed the offences. The State’s case fell flat. There is nothing special about exceptional circumstances [raised by Maditse]. The court has a duty to grant them bail,” Roux said.
Judgment in the bail hearing has been reserved until Tuesday.