The kidnapping charge against Ely Kibunda, the co-accused of schoolgirl Karabo Tau in a mystery kidnapping case in Cape Town, was withdrawn in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
State prosecutor Thetnani Masibonge told Magistrate Collin Jacks that the case had been on the roll for a bail application.
Tau and Kibunda were charged in the kidnapping of baby Kwahlelwa Tiwane from Khayelitsha last month after the baby went missing when a woman posing as a social worker allegedly took him.
“However, at this stage [the State] withdraws the charge against the accused,” Masibonge said.
The withdrawal comes with the rider that it is “pending further investigation”.
It was a bittersweet moment for Kibunda’s father Romaine, his mother Theresa and two of his brothers who have had to run the gauntlet of angry crowds outside the court.
“I think that God never sleeps,” said his relieved father outside the courtroom. But he was also furious that his son was arrested in the first place.
He alleged that his son was physically abused by police while in custody and said handcuff marks were still on his wrists.
Kibunda, 22, was arrested shortly after Tau, a Claremont High School matric pupil. Police were investigating the baby’s disappearance on January 16.
According to the State, Tau was allegedly the woman who posed as a social worker, pretending to help Kwahlelwa’s mother Asanda with money and food.
Tau has denied this, saying not only is she innocent, but she has never met the missing baby’s mother before.
Kibunda’s lawyer, advocate Leon Fieties, said on the sidelines after the case was withdrawn that they will monitor the rest of the case and would definitely pursue a civil case for Kibunda’s arrest on the grounds that his rights were violated.
“It’s just madness,” said Fieties. “Yes, we will look for compensation, for monetary compensation.”
Fieties said Tau and Kibunda have had an online romance, and they broke up without even meeting.
It was only after they broke up that they bumped into each other at a mall.
Kibunda’s father said his son is in the music industry and has a fan page on Facebook. Tau was one of his fans, but he did not think this justified his arrest.
Kibunda performs under the stage name Nelly Lukas, derived from his mother Theresa Lukasu’s name.
During Tau’s bail application, she claimed she was forced to write a false confession under extreme duress by police.
Her alibi was that she was in an isiXhosa class at school at 14.00pm on January 16, when Kwahlelwa’s mom estimates Tau visited her.
Tau testified that she let police take the names of Kibunda and another foreign national from her phone when police frightened her and told her that some foreign nationals were involved in kidnapping.
She said they are the only foreign nationals she knew and added that they had unrequited crushes on her.
The court heard on Tuesday that she could also face human trafficking charges in future.
Kibunda senior also felt that xenophobia could have had a hand in his son’s arrest. He is an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The case has been marked by violence outside the court between people supporting Tau, and those wanting to know where baby Kwahlelwa was, which caused fears over which exit the Kibunda family would use to leave court safely.
On Tuesday, bottles were thrown and sjamboks, sticks and hammers were wielded between the opposing sides in the case.
Final arguments in Tau’s bail application continued later on Wednesday and by noon, a large crowd had already gathered and were singing loudly outside court.