CAPE ARGUS LATE
A TAXI driver arrested for the hijacking of the Oasis school’s minibus and the murder of disabled child Monique Valentyn has been released on bail of R5000 by the Cape High Court. Mr Justice Jerome Ngwenya ordered that Thomas Molwana, 38, a father of five, be released on bail and put under house arrest between 8pm and 8am. He was also told not to contact any State witnesses. Molwana and his brother, Mbulelo Gideon Molwana, have provisionally been charged with the murder of Minique, 16, and the hijacking of the Oasis bus. They have not yet pleaded. Thomas Molwana is not directly linked to Monique’s shooting, but was placed on the scene by a witness who identified him in a police line-up. Molwana brought the application in the High Court yesterday after being denied bail by Kuild River magistrate’s Court. The State says three men were involved in the hijacking of the minibus before 8am on September 3. The minibus had stopped to pick up a child in Mangel Street, Wesbank, when three men approached. Two held up the driver at gunpoint, taking his cell phone and firearm, while the third wrenced open the sliding door to let the children out. The State says Monique, who had the mental capacity of a five-year-old, was slow to get out, and the men sped off with her still in the vehicle. The minibus had just turned the corner into Tescombie street when witnesses heard a shot and saw Monique being pushed out of the moving vehicle. She died of a bullet wound at Tygerberg Hospital the next day. Inspector Anna Magrieta Cilliers told Kuils River Magistrate’s Court during the original bail application that the driver of the minibus would identify Molwana as one of his attackers. She said another person who is in witness protection might also be able to identify Molwana. Molwana, who employes four taxi drivers, has tuberculosis and diabetes. He complained in papers in support of his bail application yesterday that he was not getting his medication in Pollsmoor Prison. Both crimes – murder and robbery – fall under special bail laws, and Molwana had to convince the court there were special circumstances why he should get bail. Molwana’s wife, Nokuphumla Beauty Molwana, filed an affidavit saying her husband had been asleep with her at home in Nyanga at the time of the hijack. She woke up at 8am when the driver of Molwana’s bakkie, who had taken the Molwana children to school, returned. She said her husband rose only at 9am and left the house at 9h30am. In his judgement Judge Ngwenya said the hijacking and murder of Monique were heinous crimes. However, magistrate Linda van Tonder misdirected herself in refusing to release Molwana on bail. He found that cumulatively there were extroardinary circumstances that justified Molwana’s release. Some of the facts were: Molwana had solid roots in the Western Cape and was not a flight risk. He suffered from TB and diabetes. The strength of the State’s case was balanced by Molwana’s alibi defence. In a bail application the court does not decide on the merits of a case. There was no evidence that Molwana would intimidate witnesses. Molwana was a first offender. Because the case was heard on bail, both parties were bound by the record for Magistrate’s Court proceedings. During Molwana’s original bail application no evidence was placed before the court about the feelings of the community about Monique’s death, apart from indicating that they were shocked by the crime. No evidence was led about the intimidation of witnesses and why the witnesses were under witness protection.