PRETORIA – After five years in jail, the “Thulsie twins” still await trial. They were arrested in 2016 under the untested 2005 Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act (PoCDATaRA) – the “Terrorism Act”,.
They were later charged with trying to flee South Africa to join the ISIS in Syria and for planning terrorist attacks in South Africa, against the UK, US, Russian and French embassies, Jewish interests, Shiite mosques, the state-owned arms manufacturer Denel and cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro – Zapiro – for drawing cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.
The “Thulsie twins’” attorney Nadeem Mohammed spoke to Salaamedia’s Julie Alli on News & Views about the long awaited trial and the struggles the defense has been having with the state in the case.
“Our job is to ensure that every right matters so what I mean by that is, it doesn’t matter how small their intrenchment of their right is, we [the defense] take it up on a grand scale and we ensure that the court, the justice system and the state that nothing is going to be simply swept under the carpet because you believe that this terrorism legislation is a be all and end all of all legislation in the country,” said Mohammed.
According to Attorney Mohammed, the trial was supposed to commence on 18 January 2021 and was set to continue for a period of four to five months. However, as the trial was about to start, the state indicated that they were not ready to which the defense opposed the opposition demanding to know the reason why the trial could not start. A postponement was granted by Johannesburg High Court trial Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng.
“The defense counsel and I found a very crucial point which is the issue related to the transfer from the Regional Court in Johannesburg to the High Court and that the transfer itself was unlawful.”
Mohammed continued by saying, “We raised the issue and our application was dismissed, we sought leave to appeal the issue, our application for leave to appeal was dismissed. We then decided to take it to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), we started making preparations for a leave of appeal at the SCA which we are currently busy with as we speak.”
Because of the charges against the “Thulsi twins”, they have been restricted on various matters on a daily basis such as the lack of food that is being allowed into the prison, the brothers have been separated in the prison where they are kept and are only allowed to see one another for an hour once a week, they are only allowed to consult with their lawyers through a bulletproof glass shield and cannot view documentation, according to Mohammed.
“Signing of documentation is a hassle and we brought all these issues up at a urgent application last year where we said we want access to our time, we want to be able to bring in our roll of bags, our boxes, our files and consult for longer hours.”
However, the defense was not successful but got costs from the state.
The defense accused the prosecution of “Islamophobia” and using apartheid tactics, Mohammed commented on this and said, “whether it is being deliberately dragged out, I cant comment on that. What I can tell you without a doubt in my mind, there has been attack on Islam.”
“There is definitely an element of fear in the heart and minds of the state or anyone trying to prosecute people like the Thulsie twins,” he said.
Mohammed concluded by saying that he does not doubt their innocence and he has hopes that this case will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The next deadline in this case is 20 July, when the defense lawyers must present their petition of a leave to the SCA.
The judge has also ruled that neither side may lodge any further applications, including bail, until their petition to the SCA had been finalised.