“We can’t postpone this matter forever,” warns magistrate in mob justice case

Case against Masiphumelele activist delayed again

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Photo of Lubabalo Vellem being carried by a crowd of supporters
Lubabalo Vellem is carried by his supporters after his bail hearing in November last year. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

The case against Masiphumelele community activist Lubabalo Vellem and his co-accused was postponed yet again today. Vellem has a string of charges against his name, including murder and public violence, all stemming from the mob justice murder of a man on 15 September 2015 and the assault of another man on 29 September 2015.

A year later, none of the cases against Vellem have gone to trial.

“We can’t postpone this matter forever,” said Magistrate Karel Meyer in court today, where Vellem and his co-accused were appearing on charges of public violence.

An annoyed Meyer said that there had been “talks about talks” between the lawyers for the accused and the prosecutor, but no conclusion had been reached.

One of the lawyers for the accused, who was standing in for her colleague, said that she had only started at the firm a week ago and did not know whether her colleague had even had a meeting with the prosecutor.

Meyer gave the defence and the prosecution until 27 September to complete their discussions.

“I don’t want to postpone this matter anymore,” said Meyer.

Outside the courtroom, Vellem told GroundUp that he and his co-accused were “struggling a little bit” to cover lawyers’ costs after multiple postponements.

Vellem’s supporters in Masiphumelele are raising the money needed to pay for private lawyers.

Vellem’s bail conditions stipulate that he live in Khayelitsha with his sister, some 35km away from his child.

“I can’t even visit my kid, I can’t even attend church,” said Vellem, who does not believe the cases against him will be wrapped up before the end of the year.

He has been allowed back to Masiphumelele only twice – once to vote and once to attend a memorial service.

He hopes to be allowed back to attend a vigil for 14-year-old Amani Pula, who was raped and murdered on 15 September last year. It was this attack that led to the acts of mob justice of which Vellem is accused.

On 27 September, Vellem and his co-accused will be back in court on various charges relating to public violence as well as murder and attempted murder.

TOPICS:  Crime

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