A Muslim cleric‚ who is among those accused of orchestrating the bloody Verulam mosque attack in May and an ISIS-inspired wave of bombings in the months that followed‚ has accused police investigators of planting evidence.
Thabit Mwenda‚ a Tanzanian national‚ was one of eleven men applying for bail in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Their bid for bail has stretched over several weeks‚ with the alleged ISIS acolytes remanded in custody since their arrest during a series of police raids on October 5.
Advocate Sinthamanie Naidu‚ for Mwenda‚ called into question the reliability of evidence seized during his client’s arrest at the Reservoir Hills house where he had been living.
She homed in on an incendiary device which was found in one of the rooms in the house.
“He [Mwenda] was accompanied into a room which was full of boxes. They had recently moved in and these items had not yet been unpacked. He saw the team leader pick up a plastic bag which appeared empty.
“He [Mwenda] was distracted by the cries of his child and when his focus returned to the packet‚ it appeared as if something had then been placed inside it. The team leader then used his bare hands to remove a ‘device’‚” said Naidu.
She said that the house was never evacuated‚ leading her client to question whether or not the device was legitimate.
“Surely all of the police and the accused would have been removed from the house on the basis of safety alone‚” she added.
Mwenda is a central figure in what the state has held is a group loyal to ISIS.
He has — along with Farhad Hoomer‚ Ahmed Haffejee‚ Mohamad Akbar‚ Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ Mahammed Sobruin‚ Ndikumana Shabani and Iddy Omani — put forward an application for bail.
They face a raft of charges‚ including for murder and contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.
Seven others were released after charges against them were withdrawn and another co-accused‚ Goolam Haffejee‚ has already been released on R100‚000 bail.
The state‚ through Advocate Adele Barnard‚ has strenuously opposed their release while awaiting trial.
The bail application continues.
Jeff Wicks – TimesLIVE