The Nchindo case ended in drama yesterday. After Regional Magistrate Lot Moroka read his sentence to the two accused persons yesterday, Advocate Craig Webster asked for a short adjournment so that he could make an application for bail pending appeal.
During recess Garvas Nchindo who had been given some reprieve was allowed the freedom to walk away from the accused dock into the public gallery. The first time in 17 days that he had tasted freedom.
When court reconvened Joe Matome was left in the dock all by himself. The significance of Moroka's sentencing started kicking in. Matome was alone. Alone as Mzwakhe Mbuli would say.
When Advocate Webster stood to address court about an application on bail pending appeal, he had barely started when Prosecutor Kgosietsile Ngakaagae stopped him in his tracks. While Moroka said he was ready to hear the application, the Prosecution's response was that they were not ready to deal with the application. Ngakaagae said they needed to prepare a detailed response if they were to take their public mandate seriously. Webster implored court to hear out the application saying a man's liberty was at stake.
Ngakaagae retorted that the bail application of a man who has just been convicted and sentenced is not urgent. He argued that the convict like many in the queue should wait his turn other than rushing the prosecution to take their social time. There was a heated exchange between Ngakaagae and the Cape Tonian based Advocate who felt that the court and the prosecution were short-changing them.
Webster urged the court to use its discretion to hear the application and order that the prosecution be compelled to participate. Magistrate Moroka said he was hamstrung to compel the prosecution to proceed when they are not ready.
There was exchange after exchange between lawyers but nothing that gave Matome joy from the uncomfortable accused dock. To Matome his liberty was fast slipping away while lawyers were playing legal gymnastics. He clasped his face in his hands, perhaps thinking - I am going to jail again. In valedictory, Magistrate Moroka announced half in jest that he did not want to see the faces of these lawyers in court.
"In the middle of the night I see your faces," Moroka said.
We file out of court and as for Matome he goes back to jail to begin his three years imprisonment. This is just day one.