Twist in student’s bail hearing

The bail application of a Rhodes University student accused of masterminding the murder of a Grahamstown man was thrown a curved ball yesterday when the state asked to introduce new evidence.

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Rhodes student Thembani Onceya in court yesterday. Picture: DAVID MACGREGOR

Plans by magistrate Lindelwa Figlan to rule in Thembani Onceya’s bail application were again put on hold when prosecutor Lyle Prins said it was in the interests of justice to further delay the hearing.

Onceya’s attorney, Basil Williams, yesterday said Prins’s request to reopen the state’s case was “quite shocking”.

Vowing to object, he said Prins was being unprofessional.

Onceya, 28, was arrested early last month when he handed himself over to police following the discovery of Thembalani Qwakanisa’s battered body wrapped in a carpet in a dam in Joza.

The third-year anthropology and Xhosa student had been sought since police had arrested two of his brothers and two friends for the alleged torture and murder of Qwakanisa the day before.

The horrific murder caused shockwaves in the community.

Earlier, during his bail application last week, Onceya said he could only muster R500 if his application was successful.

The court was told at the time by investigating officer detective John Manzana that Onceya’s life could be in danger if he was released on bail and stayed in Grahamstown.

Prins yesterday told the court that Manzana was still checking out an alternative address and was unable to confirm it as yet.

He said the investigation was ongoing and that new evidence had emerged resulting in his request to reopen the case.

According to Prins, the state wanted the court to have “the full picture of the evidence” instead of half-presenting the evidence.

Responding, Williams questioned why Prins made the request at this late stage.

Prins said the new information was not in the docket when the bail hearing started two weeks ago.

Figlan postponed the hearing until today to allow time to confirm the address if Onceya did get bail.

Onceya, a local poet and social activist who was at the forefront of the #FeesMustFall movement last year, had taken a back seat this year, according to friends.

His laptop was allegedly stolen last month following a drinking session with his four co-accused and Qwakanisa.

Onceya suspected Qwakanisa of the crime, according to evidence during the bail application. — davidm@dispatch.co.za

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