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Thulsie twins’ defence in contradictory motion

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The Thulsie twins have now spent almost six years behind bars awaiting trial for allegedly planning terrorist attacks on Jewish and other institutions and individuals. One would think they wouldn’t want to wait a day longer for their trial to begin, but it appears their defence may be trying to delay proceedings for as long as possible.

Tony-Lee and Brandon-Lee were arrested in a 2016 raid in Gauteng. Authorities allege they are linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

In the official indictment filed in the Gauteng High Court in August 2018, “the said terrorist activities would have been perpetrated using firearms, explosives, and possibly poisons, and would have been directed against cartoonist Zapiro, a Jewish South African investment manager, Telfed, King David High School Linksfield, Jewish community events, and conferences as yet not more specifically identified by the accused”. They also planned to direct their enmity on other “individual South African Jews and Jewish entities followed on Twitter, and a Jewish event identified on the Habonim website”, as well as other targets, according to the indictment.

The twins appeared in the Johannesburg High Court on 17 January for a trial date. The state told Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng that it was ready to proceed with the trial, but Advocate Abu Bakr Omar, counsel to the twins, objected to the livestreaming of court proceedings.

Describing the case as “very sensitive”, he said that they didn’t mind the media live tweeting or publishing details of what happened in court, but he believed live proceedings would put witnesses and his clients in danger.

The judge was clearly frustrated, and argued that the trial couldn’t be held in secret. He said that if safety was a concern, applications for protection of witnesses could be made to the judge.

Because of this request, the matter was postponed to 18 January 2022 so that media could submit formal applications to livestream proceedings.

Yet on 18 January, the twins’ attorney, Nadeem Mohamed, said the brothers wanted their story to be heard and weren’t opposed to the court proceedings being broadcast live.

“The twins want the world to know exactly what’s happened and show the world they’re innocent of these completely trumped up and fabricated charges,” he said.

Mokgoatlheng set a trial date for 7 February 2022.

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