Former Ukhozi FM radio personality Ngizwe Mchunu who is accused of inciting violence linked to recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has been released on R2 000 bail.
Crowds outside the Randburg Magistrate’s Court erupted on Thursday as Mchunu made his way down the court steps after paying bail.
“There is nothing more important than upholding the law, from the people who govern us to us on the ground. We can live in peace, and all be in harmony. All I am going to say is now that I have been released, I want to thank all the people who supported me and the country so that justice could be done. We were fighting for justice, and we got arrested by the people who broke the law, and the law saw that we weren’t supposed to be in jail,” said Mchunu.
Mchunu briefly spoke to the media before his lawyer reminded him that addressing a public gathering was against his bail conditions.
Mchunu has been charged with inciting public violence and breaching the Disaster Management Act. He was arrested earlier this month after handing himself over to Durban police. He is alleged to have incited violence during a briefing at a Bryanston hotel on 11 July, just days after former president Jacob Zuma was arrested and jailed for contempt of court.
During his bail application, the State argued that Mchunu was a flight risk because, on his own account, he had evaded police five times before he handed himself over.
The State also played videos taken from Mchunu’s social media accounts as part of its case. Magistrate Gayle Pretorius said that videos did not prove that Mchunu incited violence and asked the State to produce that evidence.
In response, prosecutor Yusuf Baba said that the videos playing in court dealt with Mchunu evading police and that the incitement is detailed in the investigating officer’s affidavit, which speaks on Mchunu’s address in Bryanston where he allegedly incited violence.
Baba further said that the video will form part of the evidence at the trial stage and that the State cannot disclose it yet as the docket has not been presented in open court.
“The court respectfully cannot agree with that. Apparently the media was present and whatever happened, if it did happen [and went] into the wide world via all forms of social media. So the court now, I am specifically referring to count one, I am sitting in the dark I do not know what the strength of the State’s case is,” said Pretorius on the issue of the video.
Mchunu’s defence team read out his sworn affidavit in which he said that he had strong ties to the country and would not flee if released on bail.
The staunch Zuma supporter said that he would not flee from his three wives and 12 children if released from custody.
Pretorius said she was convinced Mchunu had strong emotional ties in the country.
“He is not the kind of person who can afford to just disappear. It is a combination of his responsibility to his wife and children and his loyalty to Mr Zuma to see if he is released,” Pretorius added.
Mchunu’s lawyer, advocate Sthembiso Mdladla, said that the State’s case was weak and relied solely on video evidence that, as the Magistrate pointed out, did not prove incitement.
“The first charge is a contravention of the Riotous Assemblies Act, this section speaks for itself, but the evidence does not speak to the charges. If the court were to look at the transcript of the first appearance, I asked my learned friend not to tell me about the textbook. It is exactly what he has done now. In short, there is no evidence shown in this court that the State has a strong case, and there is no evidence,” said Mdladla.
Mdladla also said that the State did not deal with the central issue that triggered the violence.
“According to him (prosecutor), this address was on the 11th, and the violence started on the 11th, but we all know what has been happening across the country. The issue of release Zuma is central to the issue. Even in his own bundle that he gave us, he gave the constitutional court decision (against former president Jacob Zuma); that’s the sequence of events he should be talking about and tying it up with the so-called address at Bryanston if really that was the cause of the unrest,” he said.
Pretorius agreed that Zuma’s incarceration played a role in the unrest and denounced the recent looting and unrest.
“The court agrees with the applicant the all the unrest that we have had in the past month is due to the incarceration of Mr Zuma, but Mr Zuma as much as he might be a father figure in the Zulu culture, he is just like the rest of us he is a citizen of this country and is subject to the democratic values of South Africa,” said the Magistrate. – news24