The bail application of a teenager accused of stabbing a Forest High pupil to death in Turffontein, Johannesburg, was postponed last week after Magistrate Basimane Molwana rubbished the State and defence’s affidavits, which were submitted to court.
Mohammed Mwela, 19, is accused of murdering 16-year-old Daniel Bakwela outside the school last Monday. He also faces two charges of attempted murder for allegedly stabbing two other pupils.
Molwana said the commissioning of the affidavits was not up to standard, stating that he was the one who had to go through a fact-finding process to get clarity on certain issues.
He granted Mwela R5 000 bail on Monday.
Here are the inconsistencies that Molwana pointed out:
1. No one told the court how many times Bakwela was stabbed
Molwana said the explanations from the State and defence did not give clarity on how many times Bakwela had been stabbed.
The court stated that the matter was a Schedule 5 offence. This means the Mwela’s legal team had to provide the court with evidence to satisfy it that it was in the interest of justice for him to be released on bail.
Molwana said the submission on the number of times the deceased had been stabbed was therefore important in order for the court to be satisfied that it was in the interest of justice that he be granted bail.
“No one told this court, neither the investigative officer nor defence, how many times the deceased had been stabbed. This might have had an impact on determining the schedule.”
2. No timetable was handed to the court
Mwela’s attorney, Mudi Mavhengani, submitted to the court that he be granted bail to allow him to exercise his constitutional right to education and complete his Grade 11 June examinations.
Molwana said that there should have been proof, in the form of a timetable, that the accused was writing exams.
“The deceased [Bakwela] had a constitutional right to life. Equally, the accused [Mwela] has a constitutional right to education and this court is an upper guardian regarding those rights.”
3. Stouter Kinders gang not mentioned by State in affidavit
On Friday – during the bail application – Mwela, the investigating officer and education department spokesperson Steve Mabona took to the witness stand to clarify the inconsistencies in the affidavits.
This saw Mwela submitting that there was a gang, which the deceased was part of. When Molwana asked how he knew that there was a gang, Mwela replied: “It is known, and they are called the Stouter Kinders gang.”
“Evidence was led under oath by the applicant that the deceased belongs to a gang. Such evidence was never placed before the court by the investigation officer,” said Molwana.
4. Education spokesperson failed to assist court with policy on ages of pupils
Also, in question, on Friday, was the ages of the pupils. Mwela is in Grade 11 and aged 19, while Bakwela was 16 and in Grade 8. Mabona, who was testifying on behalf of the department, could not give an immediate answer to the court.
“The court asks itself this question as the deceased himself was 16 in Grade 8, which translates to him finishing matric, if he was alive and didn’t drop any year of study, at 21 years of age,” said Molwana.
5. Teachers at Forest High School are teaching adults
The magistrate said because of the ages of both pupils, it appeared there were older pupils in the school and no clarity was given as to what the department’s view was of pupils’ ages.
“It appears that adults are studying at Forest High School. It appears that, at that school, teachers are teaching people who are adults or almost adults,” Molwana said.
He added that the information about what the education policy stated about age was needed.
‘Interest of justice permits Mwela to be granted bail’
These were some critical inconsistencies that Molwana was not impressed with. He said that after having considered all the contradictions and flawed information, he had to question whether Mwela was innocent and eligible for bail, despite all the contradictions and inconsistencies in the submitted affidavits.
“The court finds that the interest of justice permits that the accused be released on bail. The accused is to be relocated to a jurisdiction that is known to the court as submitted by the State, investigation officer and defence,” Molwana ruled.
‘State satisfied that its affidavit was well-commissioned’
In response, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the State was adamant there was nothing wrong with the submitted affidavit.
“We can safely say, as the NPA, that the affidavit was properly commissioned. Unless there is a misunderstanding of how an affidavit should be commissioned. According to us, it was properly commissioned,” she said.
Mjonondwane added that investigations were ongoing, saying that the NPA was not yet at the stage where it could pronounce that the matter would go to trial.
She said that most of the issues, which the magistrate had focused on, would be aired in court for a decision on whether the case was strong enough to proceed.
The case was postponed to July 10.