Johannesburg – State witness Arashad Smith retracted his statement to police ten days before the Thulsies bail application was due to be heard.
Thulsie twins, Sallahuddin and Yakeen, 23, are being charged under South Africa’s terrorism act.
According to documents seen by CAGE Africa, Smith has expressed denial around his statements against the Thulsies, and has said that police threatened to lock him up, and lock up his wife, brother-in-law and mother-in-law, if he did not sign a statement against the twins. He also said he was not informed that he had a right to legal representation or that he had a right not to sign the statement.
This constitutes a breach in due process, and a denial of Smith’s constitutional rights.
Smith was interrogated for approximately 4 hours, while the chief investigating officer took his statement. He was then rushed into signing a statement that he had not read.
Smith later retracted his statement and this has been confirmed through his lawyers, who sent emails to this effect to the investigating officer and the prosecution prior to the Thulsies’ bail application hearing. These emails were only acknowledged an hour before the bail application was due to be heard.
Police denied threatening Smith.
Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:
“We respect the court’s decision in the bail application, but the manner in which the state secured its witness’ statement should be interrogated. Questions regarding intimidation by police must be answered in order to satisfy the requirements of a fair trial.”
“It is imperative that due process is followed and the Thulsies get a fair hearing. If not, the outcome will further alienate Muslims and cause divisions in society at a time when we most need cohesiveness and co-operation. We urge a calm and balanced approach.”
“CAGE Africa calls for transparency and the rule of law to be upheld.”
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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)