Patriotic Alliance (PA) West Rand mayoral candidate Bruce Nimmerhoudt has been charged under the Terrorism Act after he was arrested for allegedly inciting violence during the recent civil unrest.
During his bail application in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on Monday, the State added a charge under the Terrorism and Related Activities Act (Terrorism), which means that he now faces a Schedule Five offence under the Criminal Procedure Act.
A Schedule Five offence means the accused needs to show it is in the interests of justice to permit his release on bail.
Bail judgment will be handed down on Friday.
It is alleged that Nimmerhoudt circulated a WhatsApp voice note inciting public violence and calling people to block national highways.
During his bail application, Nimmerhoudt told the court that he had received the voice note a night before he was arrested from a PA WhatsApp group, with about 95 members, and that he had intended to share it with local police as it incited violence, but was arrested before he got the chance.
Nimmerhoudt said that he had been involved in mobilising community members to protect shops in the area because his party was against the looting.
“I have been openly speaking out against these acts of looting and damaging infrastructure and shops. From the onset, we as a party were totally against the looting that took place. We even went to the extreme measures of mobilising our own communities to safeguard the business areas and shopping centres,” he said.
The voice note was shared on the group by Una Dickson, another PA member.
Dickson told the court that she received the voice note from her aunt and that Hawks investigators had taken a statement from her about the voice note after Nimmerhoudt was arrested.
Dickson testified that she had known Nimmerhoudt for years, and the voice in the recording was not his.
Dickson said that law enforcement had not contacted her aunt for a statement. Magistrate Annelie Africa came down on police for having not yet obtained a statement from Dickson’s aunt.
“No one took the initiative to take the statement from the person the recording originated from,” said Africa.
Nimmerhoudt also claimed that there was political interference with his arrest.
He got emotional on the stand when he spoke of the support he had received from his party’s leader Gayton Mckenzie who was present in court. He said:I believe that this is a clear case of political sabotage. I believe that this is a clear indication of someone trying to implicate and frame me for this.
Captain Phakamile Gumede also took the stand and told the court that they arrested Nimmerhoudt in the early hours of 16 July after receiving intelligence.
Those in the court gallery appeared shocked when Gumede told the court that Nimmerhoudt had told officers he was not the one that distributed the voice note, but the voice was his.
Gumede said that he opposed bail in the matter.
“If the accused was not arrested, nobody knows what would have happened on the 16 of that month (July). They (the community) won’t be happy (if Nimmerhoudt is granted bail) because of what has been happening in the country with the looting; there is no community that is happy about it, so people who want peace won’t be happy about that. The arrest of the accused managed to defuse the situation,” said Gumede.
Nimmerhoudt’s lawyer Kelvin Richards grilled Gumede on what informed his opinion that residents would not be happy if Nimmerhoudt is granted bail.
Gumeded maintained it was his opinion. He said an expert would be comparing the voice note to Nimmerhoudt’s voice.
Meanwhile, the State said that it also intended to add charges in terms of the Cyber Crimes Act.