Estcourt – The trial of suspended senior ANC member and Luthuli House staffer, Carl Niehaus, was on Wednesday afternoon postponed to November after the State said it was not ready to start prosecuting him yet.
Niehaus, a staunch supporter of jailed former president Jacob Zuma, is charged with contravening the Covid-19 regulations which prohibit large gatherings, and appeared before a magistrate of the Estcourt Court in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
It is alleged that on July 8, outside the Estcourt prison where Zuma is serving his 15 months for contempt of the Constitutional Court, Niehaus addressed a prohibited gathering of people who had camped outside the prison to show their solidarity to the former head of state when he started serving his sentence.
Niehaus was arrested in a dramatic fashion while conducting a live interview with the media that had camped outside the prison.
Announcing the postponement of the trial, KZN National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara said the matter was enrolled because Niehaus opted not to pay an admission guilty fee.
“His appearance is in connection with contravention of the Disaster Management Act, relating to an incident in July 2021. On the previous occasion, Niehaus was given the option to pay an admission of guilt fine of R3 000. He has not paid the fine so the matter was thus enrolled. The matter was postponed to November 22-26 for trial,” Kara said.
Niehaus said he was ready to fight the charges, as the prevailing Covid-19 regulations were being used to silence people.
“My position has throughout been that the Covid-19 regulations are being … used to silence people from expressing their right to freedom of speech and that is exactly what happened also with me on July 8, when I was wrongfully arrested by the SAPS at the Estcourt prison where president Zuma was then being incarcerated,” he said.
He stressed that he was ready to “take the battle down the wire” as he believes that the State has no case other than “victimising” him.
“I maintain that I will fight this Covid-19 abuse of regulations, I have done nothing wrong, I was wrongfully arrested and I will continue to pursue the case on November 22 and 23. My intention is to prove to the State and to prove through a court hearing that I have committed no crime, and in fact, a crime has been committed against me with the wrongful arrest that has been carried out by the SAPS on July 8,” Niehaus said.