Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
3 minute read
17 Jan 2022
2:24 pm

Thulsie twins terror case postponed again

Bernadette Wicks

The state said it was ready to proceed with the trial, suggesting the date of 7 February to get the ball rolling.

The Thulsie twins, Tony-Lee and Brandon-Lee, at the Johannesburg High Court, 27 January 2021. They are facing charges of terrorism and have been in custody since they were arrested in July 2016. Picture: Neil McCartney

Almost six years after they were arrested, the Johannesburg High Court has ordered that the Thulsie twins’ terrorism trial finally kick off next month.

Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie made another appearance in the Johannesburg High Court on Monday.

During proceedings, the state once again said it was ready to proceed with the long-awaited trial, suggesting the date of 7 February to get the ball rolling and put the charges to the accused so they can plead – which will mark the official start of this portion of proceedings.

The twins’ counsel, advocate Abu Bakr Omar, indicated the defence had an availability issue on this date and that he and his team had requested additional information from the state about its case against his clients but that they were still waiting on this.

The case is due back before the court on Tuesday, when various media houses are expected to bring a formal application to broadcast proceedings. The date for the accused to plead will also be discussed further.

In the meantime, Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng set it down for 7 February.

ALSO READ: Thulsie twins fail to have case dropped due to ‘irregularity’

Police swooped on the now 28-year-old twins during raids in Newclare and Azaadville, in Johannesburg’s West Rand, in July 2016 – reportedly after one of the brothers disclosed their alleged plans to carry out attacks in South Africa to an undercover FBI agent from the United States.

After initially having abandoned bail following their arrests, the Thulsies – who have been in custody awaiting their trial since their arrest – launched a new application in 2020. But charged with a raft of serious crimes – including planning to carry out terror attacks on home soil – they had to show there were exceptional circumstances warranting their release.

Judge Ramarumo Monama – who presided over that application – ultimately found they had failed.

They now want to bring a fresh application on new facts. On Monday, the court heard that their legal team was in the process of securing a date for this with Monama.

The court also heard that their lawyers planned on approaching the Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the hopes of securing leave to appeal an order handed down by Mokgoatlheng last year, dismissing their application to have their case struck from the roll because of the way in which it was transferred from the Regional Court to the High Court.

In November, the SCA dismissed their application for leave to appeal. But Omar said on Monday that they believed there were exceptional circumstances at play and will now be approaching the Judge President of the appellate court directly.

When it came to the broadcasting of proceedings, the twins’ counsel indicated their instructions were to oppose this because of the “seriousness” as well as the “sensitivity” of the case.

Mokgoatlheng appeared hesitant to impose a blanket ban on the media’s presence – pointing to Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s recent remarks about the judiciary and suggesting it could be problematic to hold the trial behind closed doors “when judges are being called ‘house negroes’ and colonised”. But the twins’ lawyers insisted this was not their intention.

ALSO READ: Thulsie twins stay in jail as bail bid fails