Judgment reserved in ET bail appeal

2010-10-06 14:22

Judgment was reserved today in the state’s appeal to overturn the granting of bail for one of the accused in the Eugene Terre’Blanche murder trial.

Judge Julius Matojane of the Pretoria High Court reserved judgment until tomorrow after spending nearly three hours listening to submissions by both the state and 28-year-old Chris Mahlangu’s defence.

The state was appealing the granting of bail, arguing that the magistrate in the Ventersdorp Magistrates Court “exercised his discretion wrongly”.

National Prosecuting Authority advocate George Baloyi said the Ventersdorp magistrate’s finding that there were exceptional circumstances for the granting of bail to Mahlangu, simply because he reported the murder to the police, was wrong.

“Should he have managed to steal the deceased’s car, he would have fled. But he couldn’t start it and went to the police to save his own skin,” said Advocate George Baloyi.

“He should never have been granted bail. Any criminal who commits a crime can go report the matter to the police station. There’s nothing exceptional or unusual about that,” said Baloyi.

“Vosloo (the magistrate) also based his decision that the accused was likely to succeed in defence in the main trial... he was wrong,” he said.

Baloyi further submitted to court that the accused also failed to demonstrate that he would be acquitted in trial because he never took the stand but merely handed over two affidavits which were not properly commissioned.

‘Self-defence’
Questioning the acceptability of the affidavits, Matojane said it would have been wise for Mahlangu to take the stand and testify on the details that led him to “self-defence”.

“The onus is on him to advise the evidence,” said Matojane.

However, defence attorney Puna Moroko argued that the prospects of success should be taken into account.

“He (the magistrate) cannot be said to have made the wrong finding. The application should not be granted,” he said.

During the bail hearing of the accused, the court heard statements, still to be tested, that Terre’Blanche was murdered after a drinking binge and an argument over wages and missing cattle.

Meanwhile, Baloyi questioned why testimonies of the accused that Terre’Blanche was threatening them with a panga contradicted that of the investigating officer who testified that he was in fact sleeping when he was bludgeoned to death and did not see it coming.

“It is impossible that the investigating officer sucked this version out of his thumb. That he was assaulted when he was sleeping and as a result suffered extensive injuries.”

Terre’Blanche sustained 24 injuries in total which included a fractured skull and ribs. Baloyi submitted that the magistrate failed to relay the injuries to the testimony of the accused.

“The accused’s testimony was false.”

Mahlangu and a minor, who cannot be identified, are accused of hacking Terre’Blanche to death in April this year.

Mahlangu was granted R500 bail by the Ventersdorp Magistrates Court on July 14.

The trial commences on November 22.

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