The case against 28 people arrested in Boitumelong township in Bloemhof, North West, has been postponed to May for trial by the regional court.
They were arrested in September 2019 on charges including kidnapping, malicious damage to property, assault and house robbery after taking the law into their own hands and arresting alleged gangsters.
The majority of people, who are arrested, are members of the local anti-gangsterism committee. The committee was established after the community complained about being terrorised by gangsters. This led to some alleged gang members being seriously assaulted and others killed.
18 of the accused are still in custody, while 10 are out on bail. Their case was postponed to the 27th of May for a trial which is expected to run for 21 days.
17 others charged with murder are expected to appear in the High Court in Klerksdorp next month for trial.
Some community members, who attended court, have expressed their dissatisfaction about the accused been kept in custody for such a long time.
“It’s 16 months now since our children have been in custody. They have spent two consecutive Christmas inside. As Bloemhof residents, we’re very much concerned. Rapists and murderers only stay for two days in police cells and after that we see them roaming the streets. But our kids who are innocent, are kept in prison,” says one resident.
“Let the residents of Bloemhof stand up and challenge this matter because those children were fighting for them. It’s really surprising that people can be arrested for one year and three months without been granted bail. Our councillors and our own government are not even assisting us,” says another resident.
“I am happy that we finally got a date for the trial. This matter will come to finality. And the most important part that I am actually happy with is that this matter will be cleared finally. We still maintain that our clients are not guilty and this court will exonerate them through trial. Having read the contents, having seen the statements that were made, there is no evidence that links them to this event,” says a lawyer, representing the accused.
Meanwhile, the state has also indicated its readiness for the trial. Over 120 witnesses are expected to be called by the state.