By Mohammed Arai
Fazila Khan-Seedat, the accused in the fraud and corruption case, was back in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday morning for her bail application. Both the Defence Attorney and the State Prosecutor continued with their submissions on why the accused should and should not be granted bail respectively. The judgement in that bail application is expected to be handed down tomorrow.
The accused’s attorney, Saleem Ebrahim, continued giving evidence in support of her bail application by means of an affidavit. He, however, introduced new facts to which the Prosecutor objected. The new facts introduced included certain WhatsApp messages and birth certificates of the accused’s grandchildren. The Prosecutor’s objection to the affidavit being submitted as evidence was based on the fact that the Defence had introduced new facts in Court after closing their case before yesterday. He argued that an application needed to be brought first before new facts could be adduced in court once a party had closed its case on a previous occasion, and if the Court accepted the affidavit in its entirety, it would amount to a procedural irregularity. The Prosecutor cited two Supreme Court of Appeal cases in an attempt to sustain his argument.
The Magistrate agreed with the State Prosecutor and stated that the Defence should have sought leave of the Court to introduce new facts through an application. He further stated that if such an affidavit was accepted as evidence, the State would be prejudiced and that such an application was necessary before adducing new facts “for me to come to a just decision”.
The Defence Attorney contended that if new facts were not allowed to be submitted, the prejudice to the accused would be far greater than the prejudice which could be suffered by the State. Ebrahim, however, agreed to have their case reopened by bringing an application to reopen the Defence’s case. That application, too, was objected by the State Prosecutor who argued that the application by the Defence to have their case reopened to adduce new facts should be refused by the Court because there was no reasonable and sufficient explanation given by the Defence as to why they did not adduce those new facts previously when they were leading evidence.
“The matter will stand down for the State Prosecutor to read the affidavit, and if an agreement is reached between both parties on what needs to be struck off from the affidavit, that will be fine,” the Magistrate ruled. Consequently, both lawyers reached an agreement on what needed to be struck off from the affidavit, and the updated version of the affidavit was handed and submitted as evidence.
Judgement in this bail application is expected to be handed down on Friday. The Court remanded the accused in custody without bail at the hospital section of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, commonly known as Sun City Prison.
Featured image by Priya Ranchod.