‘What did you eat for lunch?” came the desperate whisper from Wasiela Thulsie, whose 24-year-old twin sons were yesterday in the dock for a pre-trial sitting of the terrorism case against them.
In the High Court in Johannesburg, the chains binding them jingled as they peered cheerfully at their distressed mother, seemingly trying to quell her concern for their health.
The constitutionality of the rarely tested Terrorism Act Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie are accused of contravening is being challenged by their lawyers – the latest application in a slew of attempts by advocate Anneline van den Heever to oppose the arrests and continued detention of her clients.
The proceedings have been punctuated by several postponements at the state’s request to gather evidence, which involves multiple international organisations and witnesses.
The twins have been in jail for longer than a year. Karen Jayes, spokesperson for NGO Cage Africa which represents them, has lamented the plight of their family as they await the trial.
Their mother has lost her house and is suffering stress-related health issues.
“What they thought would be quick has dragged on for so long and all they want now is answers. What evidence does the state have against them exactly and what exactly is it that they are being accused of?”
Along with two young acquaintances, the twins were arrested in July last year during a series of police raids at their homes in Newclare and Azaadville on the West Rand.
Family members detailed in several affidavits how police intimidated them and failed to follow the correct procedure of search and seizure warrants.
The state claims to have evidence the twins were linked to the extremist Islamic State group and were planning to bomb the US embassy in Pretoria and a number of buildings owned by Jewish institutions.
Besides being detained for nearly a year and a half, one of the brothers was allegedly assaulted by a prison guard and stigma around their religion has contributed to their woes, Jayes said.
A member of their legal team told The Citizen a civil suit was definitely on the cards after the trial.
The pre-trial proceedings were postponed to February 20.