New developments’ rumoured as Griekwastad case is postponed, judge asks media not to speculate

2013-11-28 00:00

KIMBERLEY — There are allegedly “new developments” in the Griekwastad murder trial, which yesterday caused the case to be postponed to December 9.

The state and the defence had already closed their cases and the delay postponed their arguments to summarise the evidence and legal principles that were supposed to be heard yesterday.

The defence’s heads of argument had only been handed in on Tuesday. The state’s heads of argument were already handed to the court on Monday.

The court yesterday gave no reasons why the final arguments in the Griekwastad murder trial had been postponed to December 9.

A minor teenager had been charged with the murders of Deon, Christel and Marthella Steenkamp, as well as Marthella’s rape and defeating the ends of justice.

The minor reported to the police that he found their bodies in their family home on Good Friday at the farm Naauw­hoek. Sister paper Volksblad had learned from an informed source that the new development in court had caused unhappiness in certain circles.

The accused was, however, very happy yesterday, and constantly smiled in court.

Advocate Hannes Cloete, for the state, started yesterday’s court proceedings by asking for the case to be postponed. This was after reaching an agreement with advocate Willem Coetzee, for the defence.

Judge president Frans Kgomo agreed to the delay, but asked the media not to call him or his secretary to ask about the reason behind the delay, because they did not know what this reason was. While this is unusual, he said he respected the professionalism of the two advocates in the opposing legal teams.

Professor Neels Swanepoel with the Free State University said there may be an application to re-open the case because of new evidence, which both teams still needed to study. He said in his opinion the state had a watertight case.

“The judge will have to be sensitive to a request for a postponement. Both sides are entitled to a speedy completion of the case and to date the trial had proceeded without unnecessary delays.

“As long as the judge is happy that the administration of justice will not suffer, there is nothing strange to me in his agreeing to [a postponement].”

Swanepoel stressed that he was just speculating. “There may be other reasons why either or both the sides needed postponement.”

Another legal expert, who did not want to be named, said the postponement without a reason was very strange. He said it was both unacceptable and unheard of for the public to be denied a reason why a case had been postponed at such a late stage of the trial.

He said if the postponement was requested because the accused had decided to change his plea, it would not help to shorten or soften his possible sentencing.

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