Court made an error in denying bail to accused in Thabo Bester saga: Expert

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Legal expert Thabo Molete says that the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court failed to consider the personal circumstances of the three individuals involved in the Thabo Bester prison escape during the bail application process.

The bail appeal was lodged after Magistrate Mohlolo Khabisi initially denied bail to Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, and Tieho Makhotsa. However, Free State High Court Judge Jamela Mhlambi granted them bail in the amount of R10,000.

Molete suggests that the lower court made an error by applying a trial-based test to determine the eligibility for bail, instead of considering the individual circumstances of the accused. He believes that this misdirection led to an incorrect decision in the bail application.

In their ruling, the High Court stated that it does not view the appellants as a flight risk and does not believe they will influence witnesses or undermine the criminal justice system if released on bail.

Molete argues, “The court misdirected itself in applying the wrong test to establish the suitability of the bail candidates.” He also highlights that the conditions set by the High Court, such as the applicants’ ties to the local community and the fact that they have assets, suggest they are unlikely to evade trial as they would risk forfeiting their investments.

Bail granted for other accused in the Thabo Bester escape saga