/ 9 November 2005

Alleged kidnappers’ bail postponed

Further information relating to one of the four alleged kidnappers of Liam Aspeling (10) will be presented at the four’s next appearance in the Vereeniging Regional Court on Friday.

The four men had expected to apply for bail on Wednesday, but the court heard that the investigating officer and two lever-arch files relating to the case had arrived too late for adequate preparation.

The accused are Jacob Themba Sishanga, Phamuel Selani, Elton Ferdine and Leroy Rookie Smith.

Their lawyer, Ben Botes, said that Smith had received death threats from police officers and so none of the accused would be making statements or consulting with police officers without their lawyer present.

State prosecutor Kgomotso Mathebe said that by Friday a docket relating to Smith should have arrived from Cape Town.

The contents of this document were not put before the court and so cannot be reported on.

The accused, dressed in casual clothes and occasionally glancing over their shoulders at family in the public gallery, stood silently as magistrate Retha Willemse heard their lawyer complaining about repeated postponements.

As the four left the dock, they smiled at their family members.

A police officer pulled off Smith’s orange baseball cap as he walked down towards the holding cells.

The four were arrested after Aspeling was snatched from outside his home in the south of Johannesburg on October 11 while on his way to school.

His father is a state witness in a hijacking case in the Cape, and the kidnapping might be linked to that.

A private detective found the boy the next day.

The state intends to oppose bail. — Sapa