TRUCK DRIVER’S SUPPORTERS LEFT IN TEARS, BUT WITH HOPE
By: Tony Manyangadze
“…Hence bail is denied.”
Just the utterance of these words by Magistrate Gwendolyn Robinson left many of Sanele May’s supporters feeling ‘shortchanged’ after Tuesday’s bail hearing.
“We are here to stay and support Sanele all the way. But I just feel so heartbroken his hopes were up and to hear he was sobbing breaks me even more,” said Candice Delpech, one of 12 600 supporters of Sanele May commenting on a Facebook page called Sanele May Support Group (SMSG).
Lungile Mabaso echoed the same sentiments adding that the magistrate did not consider what May is going through psychologically.
“Did the magistrate take Sanele’s mental state into consideration? Yes he is an illegal immigrant, but he is human and what befell him is terrible and unintentional,” expressed Mabaso.
However, not everyone agrees with this. Some people feel that justice must take its course and May must be held accountable for whatever part he played in the accident. Val Opperman was on the Roving Reporters Facebook page and shared her views.
“I hear what you’re saying but we rely on our Courts to protect us, our families & friends; but he didn’t leave his PDP “at home” he just didn’t have a legal one because he is not allowed to work in SA so couldn’t apply for one. Anarchy will prevail in society if everybody did what they “think” is justified. Can you imagine if your child, your sister, your mum or whoever you dearly love was in that accident and you found out the driver was let free without punishment? He was in the wrong & as the Law states he must face the Charge with his defence council,” said Oppernam.
She added, “I originally felt so sorry for him and belonged to the Sanele May FB Group and donated money to assist him but now the truth is coming out it has changed my whole view dramatically and I hope that what is happening wakes up the SA Transport Department and Truck owners.”
Going back to the facts of the case, the notion that was taken by the state to deny May bail, to most, might be a bitter pill to swallow. But it is important for both sides not to let emotions cast a dark cloud over objective judgment. Instead let us, as Martin Luther King Jnr said, “believe that the bank of justice is not bankrupt”.
According to Magistrate Robinson’s bail application judgment, the main reasons why Sanele May was denied bail lie in the fact that he is not a South African citizen and he was not in the country legally. This unfortunately tied all the possible options May’s defense council had placed on the table for him to be allowed bail.
This being said, many might still not be in the same light yet. Charlz Chantal JvRensburg is one of May’s supporters who are still finding it difficult to come to terms with the magistrate’s stance.
“I have no comment. I am so cross. It’s so unfair to use legal jargon just to keep him in. Sorry for the negativity but I am struggling to understand how this is even possible,” said Charlz Chantal JvRensburg.
“What does citizenship got to do with it? So if you are not a citizen of a country you cannot be protected? I am so lost and disappointed,” added JvRensburg.
Disappointing? Yes. But let’s elucidate the complexity and uniqueness of May’s case. A common legal saying claim that it’s not what you know or what you think but what you can prove that matters in a court of law. As such, it should be noted that most of the facts that were forwarded by the State in opposing bail were undeniably true and irrefutable.
It is a fact that Sanele May was in the country illegally, there are irregularities around his driving documentation and most notably, the court has no jurisdiction in Swaziland, so granting him bail to go back to his home country would lead to complications when it comes to extraditing May back to South Africa to face trial.
“The court has no authority in Swaziland and that an extradition order would first have to be successfully sought. This could take up to 2 years so they cannot accept this as a viable option,” said Dave Coetzee responding to May’s disappointed supporters on SMSG.
“For Sanele to stay in SA it would mean the courts are granting him citizenship which the court has no authority to do,” added Coetzee.
So it is after considering the above mentioned facts and more that left magistrate Robinson with only one option-to denial May’s bail application.
“The court is of the opinion that it is not in the interests of justice that the applicant should be admitted to bail,” read Robinson.
Disheartening as this might sound; the light of hope has not been turned off among May’s supporters. Mariah Peach, the coordinator of SMSG pleaded to the supporters not to lose hope.
“Today is a new day and we soldier on. Sanele is safe and strong and we are plotting the way forward. We cannot change his journey but are doing everything we can to assist him and need to hold his hand through it,” said Peach.
Peach also took the opportunity to clarify why she and the 12 500 of May’s supporters are rallying behind him.
“Our support is not about Sanele being guilty or not guilty, it’s about being there for someone in their darkest hour when they need support the most. He’s an awesome guy trapped in a nightmare.”
The Sanele May Support (SMSG) is not only there for May but also they assist the families of the deceased.
“It is Sanele’s wish that something good comes out of this bad situation and we support the families of the victims too. They have suffered terrible losses and are hurting too. This was a terrible accident and we thank the 12500 supporters from 18 countries who see it as such and are prepared to hold Sanele’s hand on this journey. We want access to justice and a fair trial, everyone deserves that,” said Peach.