Lawyers for terror-accused twin brothers Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie have bemoaned the lack of “proper and adequate medical care” at Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II Management Area (prison).
The twins are now in their fourth year behind bars awaiting trial.
The case came briefly before the High Court in Johannesburg yesterday, with a fresh bid for bail looming. Despite earlier abandoning bail, the Thulsies’ legal team is now preparing to argue that it be granted.
The new application came before Maletsatsi Betty Mahalelo last week but was subsequently postponed for outstanding documents to be filed.
Meanwhile, yesterday, defence counsel advocate Anneline van den Heever told the court that Tony-Lee had been suffering from dental issues for “a period of months”.
Van den Heever said: “Each and every request that he made to see a dentist was not adhered to.
“He finally, last week – because he insisted – managed to see a dentist and was told there was nothing that could be done for him and that he would have to have all of his teeth pulled out.
“I can’t see how a dentist can say, ‘Because you’ve got some kind of infection all your teeth must be extracted’, or how there’s a waiting list of three years before you can actually see a specialist.”
Van den Heever said her client’s treatment did not comply with the provisions of the Correctional Services Act.
“It is also unconstitutional,” she added. “People who’re incarcerated should have some kind of medical treatment. You need to give them proper and adequate medical care.”
State advocate Adele Barnard said that was the first she or her team were hearing of Tony-Lee’s situation but she assured Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, who was presiding over the criminal case, that she would look into it.
They are due back before Mokgoatlheng next month.
Police swooped on the Thulsies during raids in Newclare and Azaadville on the West Rand in July 2016, reportedly after one of the brothers disclosed their alleged plans to carry out terror attacks in South Africa to an undercover FBI agent from the US.
Their alleged targets reportedly included the US embassy, the UK High Commission, the South Africa Zionist Federation, King David High School and arms manufacturer Denel.
They were charged under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.
The state is opposing the Thulsies’ bail application and the defence earlier conceded that the crimes their clients stand accused of are schedule six offences, which means when their lawyers argue for their release on bail, they will have to prove there are exceptional circumstances warranting it.
The University of the Free State’s Dr Hussein Solomon, an expert on counter-terrorism in Africa, said yesterday that the state’s tough stance could be seen as a show of strength.
“In the past, the South African government was perceived to be too ‘soft’ in these cases,” he said. “The criminal justice system was regarded as quite incompetent.”
Solomon pointed to the fact that no one had been convicted of these types of charges before. “I think government wants to take a stand on this,” he said.
However, it could be seen as an attempt to counter any negative public sentiment around the state’s case and it would be worrying if that were the case.