Two alleged fake traditional healers who conned an Eastern Cape prison warder out of R2.5-million did not apply for bail yesterday – but this was because of a court mix-up.
The men, both from Malawi, were due to apply for bail in the East London Magistrate’s Court but when it was their time to appear in court they were not in the police holding cells.
Court mix-up in fake traditional healers case
Despondent state prosecutor Advocate Thenjawa Sellem told presiding bail magistrate Nazeem Joemath that he could not proceed with the bail application because the accused had been returned to prison by a prosecutor and magistrate in another court. He said this happened because he was not consulted.
“The accused were in court today at my requisition. Now there is drama caused by A court.
“They took the accused for an unrelated matter and rolled my matter for tomorrow. They did not bother to inform me,” Sellem said. “When I left this court in the morning I left a message with the clerk of the court that as soon as an interpreter for the accused is present in court, that I be called.”
Joemath then asked: “What are we going to do? What is the way forward?” to which Sellem replied: “The accused are no longer here. We need to discount the magistrate and prosecutor in A court.
“They did not even read the charge sheet. Their experience speaks for itself.”
Joemath then asked if the state would be ready to proceed with the bail application today, but before Sellem could answer, Chichewa and Swahili interpreter Robert Muchinga got up to speak: “I am not available on Wednesday and Thursday as I will be in court in Stutterheim.
“I will only be available on Friday.”
The bail application was then postponed to Friday.
The fraud case involves a former correctional services warder who was allegedly persuaded by the men to cash in his pension after 30 years of service.
At the time of his retirement, the 54-year-old warder was working at the Middledrift prison.
The R2.5-million included his pension and loans he took with different banks.
He was allegedly led to believe that for each R100000 he gave the accused, he would receive R7-million from his ancestors.
Court documents show the warder was convinced by the men that they could reside in the clouds and underneath the sea.
The rituals took place between January 2015 and December last year and included visiting a graveyard in Mdantsane and a forest in Zwelitsha.
He reported the matter to police who had not managed to recover the money.