More held in SA prisons without trial
Sowetan has been contacted by nine more prisoners who have been languishing in jail awaiting trial - one of them for as long a nine years.
The prisoners phoned Sowetan yesterday after seeing our story about Angolan businessman Sergio Joao Christiano, who was acquitted on Wednesday after spending more than seven years in prison awaiting trial on nine charges.
The men who contacted us face charges that include fraud and rape.
One of them, Johan Myburg, of Pretoria, said he was arrested in 1998 on a charge of fraud.
He said he regularly appears in court but his case is always postponed for further investigation.
He is due to appear in the Pretoria regional court again today.
The other awaiting- trial prisoners include:
l Robert Ngidi, of Pretoria, who was arrested in January 2002 for rape. He last went to court on January 18, 2004;
lAndrew Mashigo, of Mamelodi, arrested in October 2003 on a charge of involvement in a gang rape. He last appeared in court in 2004;
lMike Mokoena, of Soshanguve, arrested in August 2000 with Steven Phalane, Prince Molefe, Kabelo Mokone and Peter Mogapi. They are charged with being members of a car-theft syndicate. They claim to have appeared before the same magistrate, Kallie Bosch, since their arrest. They say they have briefed lawyers to file an application for Bosch to recuse himself from the case because of the repeated postponements. They are due to appear in court again on June 5; and
l Congolese national Lali Ngambimbi, arrested for alleged fraud in 2002.
All the accused are in Pretoria Central Prison.
An official of the Judicial Inspectorate Office of the Inspecting Judge, who asked to remain anonymous, yesterday declined to comment on the statistics on awaiting-trial prisoners because the Department of Correctional Services had stopped releasing such statistics.
The Julia Mashele Foundation, which helps awaiting-trial prisoners who cannot afford bail or lawyers, yesterday announced that it will organise a march for later this month in protest at overcrowding in prisons.
The foundation said it had support for the march from Lawyers for Human Rights and from the South African Prisoners' Organisation for Human Rights.