Church raid: High Court orders probe into magistrate

The Magistrate’s Commission should institute an investigation into the conduct of a magistrate who handled the case against immigrants arrested during a raid at the Methodist Church in the inner city, the Johannesburg High Court ruled on Friday.

”The matter must be referred as soon as possible to the Magistrate’s

Commission for consideration and I request that the Magistrate’s Commission makes public the outcome and report to the Chief Magistrate,” Judge Ronald Sutherland ruled.

The judge withdrew all charges against all immigrants arrested during the raid and ordered the immediate release of those remaining in custody.

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) brought an urgent review in the Johannesburg High Court on Friday in relation to a refusal to hear or grant the bail applications of immigrants still in custody following the raid at the church.

Over three hundred people were arrested and held at the Johannesburg Central police station at the end of January, after police stormed the church during an anti-crime operation.

Police said the raid on the church and other buildings in the city centre was prompted by reports that people were being robbed on the streets and that the robbers would then flee into the church.

Regis Mtutu, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) international coordinator, said all immigrants would be returned to the church where they had been accommodated before they were arrested.

The Methodist Church was not immediately available for comment. – Sapa

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