No bail for Rowe accused

2009-06-05 00:00

BUSANI Mchunu, the man facing murder charges for the killing of Rietvlei farmer Alan Rowe, was denied bail in the Greytown Magistrate’s Court yesterday after it emerged that he has a previous conviction.

Leading evidence in his bail application, Mchunu pleaded not guilty, but “conveniently forgot” to mention that he was convicted of the possession of an illegal firearm in 2003.

In the witness stand, Mchunu told the court that he was acquitted in a theft of motor vehicle case.

“Initially I was convicted for stealing a car, but on appeal I was acquitted.”

It turned out that Mchunu had been convicted in 2003 for both possession of an illegal firearm and the theft of a motor vehicle. On appeal he was released in October 2007.

This was revealed by investigating officer Captain Bobby Naicker, who told the court: “We believe that his release might endanger the safety of the witnesses who reported the incident. He is likely to evade his trial due to the seriousness of the case.”

Naicker said that Rowe’s murder has created a public outcry and that Mchunu knows that he will face a lengthy sentence if convicted.

The magistrate said he is concerned that Mchunu chose to withhold information about his previous conviction.

Mchunu’s lawyer had to consult him on the firearms case before he admitted to it.

“You conveniently forgot to tell the court about the conviction on possession of a firearm, but you want the state to trust you. It is not in the interest of justice to grant you bail,” said the magistrate.

The police are closing in on two other suspects in the Rowe murder case. It is believed that police know the whereabouts of the suspects and will make at least one arrest soon.

They also believe that one suspect has the guns that were used in the shooting — a 9 mm pistol, an R5 rifle and a .38 revolver .

“The postmortem showed that Rowe was shot three times and a 9 mm bullet was found in his body,” said Naicker.

It has also emerged that the incident is not related to outstanding land claim disputes as was previously reported, but was meant to be a robbery.

Mchunu has been remanded in custody and will appear again on July 2. The state is awaiting ballistic test results and cellphone records of the suspects’ calls.

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