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WHAT’S THE VALUE OF BISHOP’S STOLEN CAR?

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MBABANE – The three men who are accused of stealing Archbishop Bheki Lukhele‘s motor vehicles had a reason to celebrate yesterday.


Banele Ridic Kunene (24) of Motshane, Machawe Sibandze (30) of Nkoyoyo and Thembela Gama (28) of Luhlangotsini, were released on bail fixed at E5 000 each.


Their release came after their defence counsels challenged Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which provides that bail amount should be fixed at half the value of the stolen property. Gama was represented by Sabelo Mngometulu while the duo was represented by Akaphelimandla Mkhwanazi.
The defence counsels challenged the Section after Chris Sibandze, who is representing the State in the matter, applied that the court invoke the Section.
In his submissions, Mngometulu referred the court to the previous and the amended charge sheets, where he pointed out an inconsistency in the value of the stolen motor vehicle. In the first charge, Gama and Kunene are accused of stealing a white Audi A4 registered YSD 699 CM valued at E140 000. However, the amended charge sheet states that the stolen motor vehicle is valued at E220 000.


Mngometulu submitted that there was no evaluation report to prove the value of the motor vehicle.
He submitted that the discrepancy in the value of the same motor vehicle showed that there was guesswork on the part of the Crown. The defence counsel mentioned that there were many evaluators who were in a position to evaluate and determine the value of the motor vehicle.


“It is surprising that the value of the motor vehicle has shot up to E220 000 from E140 000 within six days. Clearly, the Crown is speculating. It is clear that the Crown came up with this ridiculous amount to frustrate my client. This is a strategy by the Crown to oppose the bail application,” submitted Mngometulu.
He further asked where could a young man get E110 000 for bail. The defence counsel mentioned that Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act provided that the court should be furnished with proof of the value of the stolen property before it could invoke the Section.


He implored the court to invoke Section 103 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, as the Section provided that an accused person should not be granted excessive bail. He referred the court to the case of Philile Dlamini versus Nhlangano Magistrate case no 1447 of 2007, where the same principle applied.

Mngometulu drew the court to the personal circumstances of Gama. He submitted that Gama was unemployed yet he had to take care of his four children. The defence counsel stated that Gama was expecting another child as his lover was seven months pregnant.
Evidently, Gama’s lover was present in court.  He had a moment with his lover after the adjournment of the matter.


Shock


Mkhwanazi shared the same sentiment with Mngometulu. He submitted that bail was a constitutional right which speaks to liberty. Mkhwanazi stated that the law was clear that bail should not induce shock to the accused person. He stated that Kunene was looking forward to enrolling at a vocational school in Nhlangano next week.


He stated that his clients were unemployed and that they had undertaken to abide by all conditions attached to their bail.
“They are both emaSwati and they are rooted in Eswatini. They do not intend to evade trial. My clients will plead not guilty to all the charges,” he said.
In response, the Crown conceded that the value of the motor vehicle as alleged in the charge sheet was guesswork. Sibandze submitted that the State did not have any documentary proof in relation to the value of the property.

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