Glitch in hijack case

News24 – SAPA

Cape Town – The bail application of a 21-year-old Zimbabwean accused of trying to hijack a South African Airways flight from Cape Town on June 17, was repeatedly delayed on Wednesday. Pinoashe Rioga’s application in the Bellville magistrate’s court was delayed at first because the magistrate asked to be recused. The unconfirmed reason for magistrate Fezile Fani not hearing the matter was that he personally knew and studied with Rioga’s counsel, Josua Greeff. The case resumed at noon before magistrate Susanna Marais. She adjourned to check up on the Criminal Procedure Act after State prosecutor Wimpie Els said Rioga’s bail was being raised under Schedule 1 of the Act. Marais contended it should be a Schedule 6 bail application which placed the onus on the accused to show “exceptional circumstance” why he be released on bail. Marais who went to the court library to read up on the Act confirmed that as of May 20 2005, Schedule 6 included offences under the Civil Aviation Act. Schedule 1 includes serious offences such as murder. In such cases the onus is on the State to prove an accused must not be granted bail. Rioga, studying information technology at the University of Cape Town faces a main charge of contravening the Civil Aviation Act by attempting to seize the aircraft while in flight. He also faces a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Rioga allegedly brandished a hypodermic syringe during his abortive hijack attempt before being overpowered by fellow passengers on the flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg.