The attorney of one of the five men accused of the assault of a black couple at a Pretoria KFC earlier this month were accused by the prosecutor of interfering in the case yesterday.
The five, Stephan Nel, 39, Marius Harding, 23, Dickie Junior van Rooyen, 21, Ockert Muller, 20, and Joshua Schultz, 21, were arrested after allegedly assaulting Jacob and Dudu Sono.
Footage of the incident at the Montana KFC drive-through caused public outrage and was labelled a racial attack. Schultz’s attorney, Francois Kriel, appeared to have obtained the confidential medical records of the victims.
The state and the investigating officer, Constable William Tladi, cited Jacob Sono’s serious head injuries and bleeding from the ears, but Kriel disputed this.
“He went to hospital and was treated for a bump to the head, with a damaged eardrum, which will actually heal in a few days. Therefore, the injuries could not be life-threatening,” Kriel said.
State prosecutor Ronnie Sibanda then asked where Kriel had obtained this information, accusing him of accessing confidential medical records that formed part of the investigation.
“Doctors are state witnesses. It seems [Schultz] and his defence had access to doctors’ reports, which are confidential.
“This is interference by the accused and his defence team since investigations [by the police] are incomplete,” he said.
The state continued to oppose bail, stating Sono and his wife were in fear of their lives as the accused knew their names. The ANC Women’s League and Black First Land First (BLF) picketed against bail being granted, while civil rights group AfriForum protested against “double standards” regarding racial matters.
Sibanda asked Tladi if he thought the first two organisations would be pleased if the accused were released on bail, and Tladi said “they’re going to fight”.
BLF deputy secretary-general Tshidiso Tsimong agreed, telling The Citizen that if bail were granted it would cause outrage.
“I don’t know what our members or the community will do. They generally take matters into their own hands. We don’t know if these guys [the accused] are going to disappear.”
Muller was released on bail two weeks ago and Harding abandoned his application. Nel, Van Rooyen and Schultz were making their fourth bail appearance before the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court yesterday. – firstname.lastname@example.org