NPA to investigate release of alleged hitman on R1500 bail
The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, has received confirmation from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) that they will be investigating the release of an alleged gang hitman on R1500 bail from Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 25 August. Mustakim Scullard (20) faced murder charges but was released on bail as the magistrate explained that it was his first offence.
The Department of Community Safety wrote to the Acting Director of the NPA noting that the NPA had opposed bail and enquired whether they would appeal the Magistrate’s decision.
Scullard reportedly approached two rival gang members and shot both. The 34-year-old victim escaped. However, the 19-year-old victim was shot and killed at close range. Scullard was identified by witnesses and was arrested two days later in Nellie Court. He was found in possession of a 9mm pistol and 16 live rounds.
Minister Fritz said, “My Department’s Court Watching Brief have further looked into the case and noted that there were four charges against the accused which include murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition. The accused first appeared on 20 July 2020 and the matter was postponed until 27 July 2020 for bail information. On 27 July 2020 bail information was provided to the State. The court was informed that the matter is a schedule 6 offence which requires exceptional circumstances to be submitted by the accused to be released on bail. The matter was postponed until 11 August 2020 for a formal bail application. On 11 August 2020 the bail application proceedings were extended until 25 August 2020. Bail was opposed by the state on both dates. The investigating officer testified in the opposing of the bail application.”
On 25 August 2020, the court was satisfied that the accused has shown exceptional circumstances which are in the interest of justice to be release on R1500 bail. The court was informed that the accused has no pending matters against him, and he provided a fix address to the court. Bail was subsequently granted to the accused.
Minister Fritz added, “While it is important to take into consideration whether a perpetrator is a first-time offender, this should be considered in terms of the context and nature of the crime. Scullard is a known gang hitman and poses a threat to the safety of our communities. It is incredibly concerning that he has been released on bail. It is an inditement on criminal justice system that the someone facing murder charges should be released on bail.”
Minister Fritz continued, “Gangsterism is a huge contributor towards violent crime in our province. Each level of government must work together to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the fight against this social ill. Our police officials’ hard work should not be met with poor prosecution or the release of a known hitman back onto our streets, putting the lives of innocent and vulnerable people at risk.”
Minister Fritz further continued, “It should be noted that while the perpetrator has been granted bail, the case remains under investigation ensuring that the accused will return to court on 28 October 2020. In the interim, I call on anyone that could assist SAPS in their investigation to immediately come forward and report such.”
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