OHANNESBURG – Police have conceded the so-called suicide vest picture of the Thulsie twins, in fact shows them in paintball gear but the state insists there is more than enough evidence justifying the pair’s arrest, on terrorism charges.
Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie are challenging the legality of their arrest.
Prosecutors argue that bank statements and foreign intelligence shows that the two were intent on joining Islamic State, and launching terror attacks.
During cross examination by advocate Annelene van den Heever, for the Thulsie twins, investigator Wynand Olivier admitted, he may have incorrectly interpreted a picture submitted as evidence.
“Olivier confirmed he’d stated under oath that it appeared the twins were posing with an automatic firearm, bomb belt and detonator – but had become aware through the media that it was paintball equipment.
He denied his interpretation of the image showed bias – adding that no one would have been able to tell ‘at first glance’ what the gear actually was.”
The twins’ family say the admission comes as no surprise to them.
“Us as a family knew that it wasn’t a suicide vest, because we knew that the twins did paintball. It was their hobby,” said Dustin McKuur, the twins’ brother-in-law
Van Den Heever asked if any devices to do with bombs were found during the arrest of the twins and Olivier responded saying: “We didn’t find anything, but we thought there would be something with an address … but we still investigating this”.
Roneldo Smit claims he was coerced into making a statement implicating the twins – a statement that Hawks officer Eddie du Plessis says led to their arrests.
Du Plessis says Brandon-Lee Thulsie said he understood the terror charges against him, but he believed “it’s all a terrible exaggeration”.
The state, however, says foreign intelligence agencies informed them, that Tony-Lee was in contact with a high-ranking Islamic State member — and was intent on blowing himself up.
The twins’ family say they simply don’t accept that.
It will be up to the court to decide whether there was a basis to arrest the 23-year-olds, or not as the case continues on Friday.