Mpumalanga Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Matric Luphondo, and two other senior government employees were released on R20 000 bail on Friday following their second appearance before the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
This was small consolation for Luphondo and co-accused though, as they are now suspended from their jobs pending the outcome of their fraud and corruption case.
Luphondo is accused of trying to bribe a prosecutor who has now turned key state witness with cash and 18-year-old Glenfiddich whisky to convince him to withdraw charges against Head of Department of Human Settlements in Mpumalanga, Kebone Masange.
The provincial NPA boss, Masange and Hawks Unit Commander of Serious Corruption Investigations, Lieutenant-Colonel Ayanda Plaatje succeeded their bail application on Friday.
Magistrate, Dreyer van der Merwe, said the state having a strong case does not mean that the accused cannot be granted bail.
“This is not the trial of the applicants. They are deemed innocent until proven guilty. The overriding question here is whether the applicants will stand their trial if they are released on bail even if the state has a strong case against them. The court has no evidence before it of any violence committed by the applicants and that the broader public is in danger,” said van der Merwe.
The magistrate said the Hawks member and Luphondo are suspended from their jobs so they can’t interfere with the case.
“The strongest suggestion against the applicants is that they may interfere with the investigations. The evidence, however, is that they are on suspension and they are not working in the criminal justice system. This makes it almost impossible for them to interfere, therefore the court has a duty not to interfere with their constitutional rights for freedom and movement,” van der Merwe said.
The magistrate said the three accused have only two bail conditions which are that they must appear in court and they must not interfere with witnesses.
The case was postponed to 23 July 2021 for further investigations.
Last year Masange was arrested for fraud, possession of fraudulent documents and contravention of the Immigration Act after it emerged that he had different indentity documents and that he was in fact born in Zimbabwe.