Johannesburg – The State has withdrawn a case against a 17-year-old youth accused of robbing and killing Mozambican national Emmanuel Josias Sithole because he needed to be charged under the Child Justice Act.
Alexandra Court Magistrate Gideon Schnetler on Wednesday told the minor the matter had been withdrawn and that he may stand down.
The matter would be dealt with using the Child Justice Act, the court heard.
The youngster, wearing jeans with a green and yellow golf shirt, left the dock and his co-accused behind as he was led back down to the court’s holding cells.
His lawyer, Vinesh Ramlakan, accused the State of being negligent with his client.
“They neglected to do their basic duties. He has already been photographed and named in the media,” he told the court.
Ramlakan told News24 that the youth will be held at an institution for juveniles.
“The charges have been withdrawn in this court. He is being kept at a children’s centre. They will follow procedure in terms of the Children’s Justice Act and [the matter] will be taken to a court which hears these specific matters. He is not free,” said Ramlakan.
Prosecutor Jacob Tloubatla told the court that the youth had told police during his arrest that he was aged 19.
Ramlakan had provided the State with the boy’s birth certificate on Wednesday morning before court proceedings began.
The other three accused were still in police custody.
The group, all in their 20s, allegedly stole cigarettes from Sithole, a vendor, and attacked him when he confronted them on April 18.
He died as a result of a single stab wound to the chest.
Sithole’s death occurred during a wave of xenophobic attacks in April. It started in townships around Durban and spread to Gauteng.
At least seven people, including three South Africans and Sithole, were killed. Scores were injured and displaced.
On Wednesday morning two of the men, Sizwe Mngomezulu and Sifundo Mzimela applied for bail.
While reading both his clients’ affidavits in court Vhonani Matshidza told the court both men intended on pleading not guilty to the charges against them.
Tloubatla told the court Mthinto Bengu was ready for trial, as soon as a date was made available.
Schnetler would await a decision on the bail application, taking place under Magistrate Syta Prinsloo in a regional court room, before confirming a trial date.