A MAGISTRATE has granted a man bail twice and had him arrested twice on the same charge.
The man is in custody after paying bail twice for the same offence. His case has also not been heard despite charges being laid against him in October 2007.
A magistrate at the Pretoria North magistrate's court first granted Levy Mbungane of Kempton Park bail in December 2008.
Mbungane was arrested in October 2007 in Industria, in Johannesburg for being in possession of immune system booster tablets.
He was charged with possession of stolen property.
"During my appearance in December 2008 I was granted R3000 bail. I spent a month and three weeks outside.
"The magistrate said my bail was a mistake and I was given a chance to make another bail application but it was refused," he said.
This happened again in March 2009 but this time he was arrested fours day later when he appeared in court.
Despite the bail hearing, the trial has never proceeded.
Mbungane said three other business-people who had the same stock were not arrested and his co-accused, who was granted bail, has also not been rearrested.
Mbungane had to change lawyers three times since they felt the case was not properly handled.
One of Mbungane's former lawyers said the case was dragging so long because the complainant was white.
Family spokesperson Flacks Mthombeni said their confidence in the justice system was tarnished by the Mbungane incident.
National prosecuting authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga confirmed that Mbungane was given bail twice but said it was an error.
"On one of his court appearances his J7 form, detention warrant, erroneously reflected that he had bail. On arrival in prison he paid bail," he said.
He said when Mbungane appeared in court the magistrate cancelled his bail because, according to the court record book, he had been remanded as he had been denied bail.
"This happened twice. We are equally taken aback by what had happened because it's unprecedented," he said.
Mhaga denied it was the NPA's fault that the trial had dragged too long.
He said the date of the trial was set and the trial would continue.
According to the NPA, Mbungane is charged with housebreaking with intent to steal and theft. They claim that Mbungane was denied bail because he had threatened one of the witnesses.
The SA Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (Sapohr) said Mbungane's case was a disgrace to the justice system.
Sapohr president Golden Miles Bhudu said the trial was a gross violation of Mbungane's human rights.
The South African Human Right Commission condemned the case. Advocate Tseliso Thipanyane said: "Two years in prison without formal proceedings is outrageous and a violation of human rights."
Thipanyane said Mbungane could sue for malicious prosecution.