West Rand mayoral hopeful Bruce Nimmerhoudt reunited with his family after being granted R3,000 bail at the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court.
Tears streamed down Nimmerhoudt’s face as his wife and children warmly embraced him.
Nimmerhoudt, a Patriotic Alliance (PA) member, was arrested on 16 July on charges of inciting public violence and engaging in terrorist activity related to the recent riots and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
The state alleged that Nimmerhoudt was the author of a viral WhatsApp voice note shared on two Roodepoort regional groups that encouraged people to join in the unrest. Police moved in on Nimmerhoudt without a search warrant and confiscated three cellphones, one of which was allegedly used to record the voice note.
In handing down her judgment, Magistrate Anneline Africa said: “The investigation in this matter is not as sharp as hoped for.”
The investigating officer, Captain Gumede, had previously testified that a “location-based service” was used to identify where the voice note was recorded.
Gumede also told the court that while he had not spoken to Nimmerhoudt at the time of arrest, he overhead Nimmerhoudt “confirming that the voice was his”.
Although this assertion crumbled under cross-examination, Gumede conceded that he could not conclusively prove that the suspect recorded the message without “expert comparative analysis”. And Gumede said the expert wasn’t available, despite this being a matter of national security.
Magistrate questions strength of the states case
“The state’s case in the absence of voice analysis is incomplete,” said Africa. “The court is still in the dark as to the nature of the ‘intel’ that led to the conclusion that the voice note was in fact created by the applicant.”
She also said two witnesses called by defence attorney Kelvin Richards corroborated Nimmerhoudt’s version of events.
Nimmerhoudt’s bail victory follows another release suspect’s from prison on related charges.
Randburg Magistrate’s Court released former Ukhozi FM DJ Ngizwe Mchunu on R2,000 bail after the state failed to link him to the planning of the violent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.
After reuniting with his family, Nimmerhoudt told The Citizen: “Our justice system has been made a mockery of. It also shows the great incompetence of the law enforcement officials that were supposed to protect us.”
He will return to court on 4 August.