Confusion reigns as Fayrooz Saleh case is postponed till November
As soon as Fayrooz Saleh took to the dock‚ Magistrate Veena Krishna called for her lawyer‚ Ori Moloi‚ and state prosecutor Hleli Mcosini to address her in chambers‚ seemingly to verify the identity of the accused.
When court resumed five minutes later‚ Krishna said: "I called both of you to my office because I have concerns of your client. She has never come to court dressed like she is today."
Only Saleh's eyes were visible from the black hijab she wore to court.
"Her build appears to be different. She looks [more] slender than before… and she wore glasses. She appears to have her body covered in [a] hijab and is not wearing glasses today.
“I don't want to offend anyone's religious beliefs but I called you in to check [that it was her]‚" said Krishna‚ acknowledging her Muslim faith.
"You have informed the court that she is indeed your client?" Krishna asked Saleh's lawyer.
"I confirm on record that she is my client because of previous appearances. Through communication and consultation‚ I can confirm that this is the accused‚" said Moloi‚ adding that he had seen her for the past four days in court.
Prosecutor Hleli Mcosini accepted that it was indeed Saleh who was before the court‚ adding that Moloi had no reason to deceive the court.
Saleh had been coming to court over the previous few days in a bid to see a magistrate to have her warrant of arrest withdrawn. The warrant was issued after she failed to appear in court on October 11.
She was initially arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport on September 11 as she was about to depart for Hong Kong.
According to court documents‚ she was stopped by Sars officials who opened her luggage in her presence and found $630‚700 in cash (about R9-million). When questioned‚ Saleh said she was heading to Hong Kong to buy goods.
Saleh appeared in court shortly after her arrest and said she could afford bail of R10‚000. The court granted her bail of R20‚000 instead.
Following her arrest‚ Sars said in a statement that she initially denied having the currency in her possession‚ but when questioned further she admitted to having a substantial sum of money in her backpack.
"She admitted that she was not the owner of the currency‚ nor could she provide any proof of ownership‚" said Sars.
The 22-year-old‚ believed to be from Ennerdale in Johannesburg‚ also faces a charge suggesting the cash may be the proceeds of a crime.
The state alleged that she took the money knowing it was obtained unlawfully. She has no previous convictions or pending bail matters.
Saleh on Thursday handed in a doctor's certificate to the court proving that she had missed the last proceedings because she was ill.
Mcosini pointed out to the court‚ however‚ that the medical certificate showed that she only saw the doctor at 2.15pm on the day she was expected to appear in court. Accused are normally required to be in court by 8.30am.
Giving her the benefit of the doubt‚ Krishna accepted the note‚ cancelling the warrant for her arrest.
Mcosini told the court he had received a directive from the National Director of Public Prosecutions that they wanted her case probed further.
He said the state was also still waiting for a statement from the Reserve Bank and therefore requested a postponement‚ saying he was mindful that Saleh is a student preparing for exams. She starts her exams on November 12.
Through her lawyer‚ Saleh told the court that she would be available on November 13 for proceedings.
"If all is in order‚ we want to see the matter finalised on that day‚" Moloi told the court‚ asking the magistrate to accept her plea on the day.
Magistrate Krishna agreed and extended Saleh's bail‚ after which Saleh hurried out of court alongside a woman who had accompanied her.
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