Cape Town – The former UCT student accused of posting on social networks how to break into the Shoprite liquor store in Delft and describing escape routes has been granted R1 000 bail at the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Sihle Mnethe, 21 years-old, was charged with incitement to commit public violence and/or theft, attempt to defeat the ends of justice, and said his next court date is July 24 for a Regional Court date.
Mnethe’s alleged post comes at a time when the Western Cape police were still busy trying to quell sporadic incidents of public violence, theft and looting of stores and delivery trucks.
Mnethe appeared in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Friday after being arrested at his home by Delft SAPS on Wednesday night. His arrest followed an investigation of a tip-off about an alleged Facebook threat by Mnethe on April 6.
According to an affidavit, his post, which has not been deleted, read: “Delft Mall Shoprite Liquor is not heavily guarded and it’s raining, so if anything happens the guards will be caught off-guard. The police station is closed so their response rate is approximately six minutes which is ample time to grab whatever you can. The best way to exit is through the south entrance and into the bushes, then cross into Blue Downs or the N2. Bella Ciao!”
Detectives believed it to be a “credible threat” and “a well-reasoned plan to break in and enter the store with the intention of stealing the property”, as well as “a risk and possible injury to the security guards stationed in the Delft Mall”.
Mnethe “reasonably foresaw the possibility that a person reading it would act upon his plan”.
Detectives monitoring Facebook claim Mnethe’s post was widely circulated, generating 20 comments, including a post by Basheerah Phillips, 29, of Delft which read: “So nobody in Delft is gonna brake into Shoprite liquor mxm Jarrre julle is klomp k*k mense.”
“From this posting, it is clear that Basheerah Phillips had identified herself with Sihle Mnethe’s call to people to break into the Shoprite Delft Liquor Shop and that she was also inciting others to do so,” alleges the affidavit.
Both Sihle Mnethe and Basheera Phillips “acted criminally by inciting the public in general to break into a Shoprite store and to break the law with regard to the current lockdown rules”.
Police were unable to say whether Phillips would also be charged and she did not answer calls to her cellphone.
By Sisonke Mlamla