Alleged Pietermaritzburg mall arson instigator denied bail

The Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg was one of the places targeted and set ablaze by protesters during unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal. File picture
The Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg was one of the places targeted and set ablaze by protesters during unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal. File picture
Image: Picture: TWITTER

An alleged instigator behind the razing of the Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg, Ndumiseni Zuma, was denied bail on Monday. 

Zuma, 35, a former security guard, appeared in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate's court and faces two charges of contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act. These relate to the incidences of looting and public violence after the burning of the mall in mid-July.

Last week, footage was shared in the court of Zuma, who is alleged to have shared a video of himself calling for the destruction of the mall.

Magistrate Nitesh Binessarie said on Monday that upon viewing the video footage and listening to all oral evidence in court, he had found that Zuma was dishonest.

“The video and the person before me are the same persons. It was very clear from the video that the person before me had advocated for public violence,” said Binessarie.

Binessarie said the items of clothing including a cap and Fabiani T-shirt — allegedly found at his Jika Joe informal settlement house — were further proof that it was the same man.

He said even though the accused had not been charged with the death of a person whose life was lost at the mall, it was clear that the person had died during the unrest. He also highlighted the livelihoods lost and the R1bn damage to the mall.

He said the suspect had been identified by two independent witnesses in an identity parade.

Binessarie said Zuma's release could induce shock to the community and put public safety in jeopardy.

“If I release you, nothing can stop you from mobilising again,” he said.

He said the court relied on the evidence by Hawks Lt-Col Anton Booysen. 

“Booysen had told the court that the applicant could not be traced by the police for a period of two weeks, which proves that you are a flight risk.”

Zuma was employed by Capi Security at the time of his arrest. He was in his third month of employment with the company.

Before joining the company, Zuma had been employed at Braber Security Services, which provided security at Checkers Liquors. He was summarily dismissed for misconduct, said Binessarie.

“There may be resentment that you harboured with the mall, as you did not see eye-to-eye with the employer,” he said.

Zuma's case has also seen his former legal representative withdraw on account of unpaid fees.

State prosecutor advocate Thabisile Ncanana said there were outstanding investigations to be conducted before the start of the trial. She listed a forensics report on the inferno and the clothing merchandise found in possession of Zuma to be traced.

Binessarie adjourned the case until November 25.

Zuma was arrested by the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal on August 28, while a second alleged instigator, a 36-year-old woman who operated as “Sphithiphithi Evaluator @AfricanSoil on Twitter, with 59,900 followers, was arrested in Gauteng on the same day.

Zuma's first appearance was held in camera, as an identity parade had yet to be conducted. He made his second appearance on September 6, when the matter was remanded to September 14 for a bail application.

TimesLIVE


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