The windows of a Verulam courtroom were blacked out and all media were barred from entering when 19 suspects appeared before the court today for their links to a series of explosive devices placed at several upmarket shopping centres across Durban as well as a brutal murder at a local mosque.
The suspects are also accused of kidnapping after the police found a man “chained and malnourished inside a dungeon in one of the houses” raided by the police last week, according to a police statement released today.
Appearing under heavy police guard, the 19 suspects face charges of murder, attempted murder, violation of the explosives act, arson, extortion, kidnapping and the illegal possession of firearms.
The suspects were arrested last Friday by a team comprising the Hawks’ Crimes Against the State unit, Crime Intelligence, the Forensic Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority.
During the raids on several homes in the Durban area, items were confiscated “including a ready-made incendiary device”.
Minister of Police General Bheki Cele said at the time of the arrest: “Government has deemed the incidents very serious and they demanded a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to book. Nothing will distract or divert our attention from creating a safe and secure environment for all people of South Africa.
“I also want to reiterate the government stance and reassure South Africans that we, as the South African Police Service, will continue to do everything within our constitutional mandate to ensure that people are and feel safe”.
Speaking to African News Agency (ANA) after the suspects’ had appeared today, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the matter would continue on Tuesday.
“Everyone must be brought before a court of law and given a fair chance. Some suspects will need the services of an interpreter. For that reason we will continue Tuesday morning,” said Mulaudzi.
He said the State would request a postponement on Tuesday in order to finalise investigations.
“With regards to everything related to the court case, we have taken a decision that we are not going to give out too much information at this stage. In terms of the kidnap victim, he is in hospital under police protection. More arrests depend on how the investigation unfolds,” said Mulaudzi.
He said Magistrate Irfan Khalil made a ruling that media and the public should not divulge the identity or names of the accused.
– African News Agency (ANA)