Unhappy with killer’s sentencing

2014-11-03 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL businesswoman Linda Eyre is angry the justice system let her down, allowing her brother’s killer to “walk away scot free”.

Eyre said evidence showed that Jody Kruger (19) stabbed her brother, Joachim “Nic” Els (56) eight times in his back, neck, shoulder and chest, during a physical fight at their Pinetown home on July 1, 2012.

Kruger’s mother, Linda Vieira, was Els’s fiancee at the time.

Eyre said Kruger, who was charged with murder, was convicted by Pinetown regional magistrate, Stanley Gumede, of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The magistrate postponed the passing of sentence for three years.

According to legal sources this means that if the offender misbehaves within the three-year period, he can be called back to court for sentencing in the case.

This type of sentence was most often used in the past for accused juveniles, before various other sentencing options were introduced.

Eyre, who lives in Hilton, is bitterly disappointed and feels Kruger has escaped punishment.

“He killed someone … They tried to make out that my brother throttled him, but how can he [Kruger] only be found guilty of assault when he stabbed my brother eight times?” she questions.

Fuelling her anger is the fact that Gumede is already being investigated in connection with a series of misconduct charges which have been referred to the Magistrate’s Commission.

A spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the investigation into the charges has been finalised and a report is due to be considered by the ethics division of the Magistrate’s Commission on December 9.

In January The Witness also reported that Gumede — once earmarked as a candidate to head the National Prosecuting Authority — came under fire for giving bail to two men charged with brutally stabbing Hillcrest homeowner, Ryan Sutherland, despite strong evidence against them including CCTV footage.

Eyre showed The Witness an e-mail she got from the prosecutor in Kruger’s trial.

He stated; “The judgment has been reviewed. It will appear the judgment was sound in terms of the law that was applied. An appeal can only be launched by the state against an error in law. It’s clear that Mr Gumede made an error on facts which cannot be appealed by the state.”

The prosecutor however adds he is “looking into other options”.

NPA spokesperson, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said; “The chief prosecutor of that cluster, advocate A. Kistnasamy, has requested the docket as well as the transcript of the matter. The matter will then be referred to the DPP’s office for further consideration.

“We will only be in a position to comment once this has been done.”

DANIE Schoeman, secretary of the Magistrate’s Commission said magistrates are often suspended from duty pending finalisation of misconduct inquiries but each case is dealt with on merit.

“There is a misconception the Commission can over-rule decisions of a judicial officer. We get many complaints from disgruntled complainants or accused people unhappy with the outcome of judgments. These are not issues that the Magistrate’s Commission can deal with. Only the high court can intervene.

“The only way to challenge a court ruling is to launch a review application or to appeal the matter,” he said.

The most common complaints the Commission deals with are “general” complaints such as a magistrate being rude, or acting unprofessionally.

“We also have a duty to hear the other side,” he said, adding that magistrates know “every trick in the book” on how to delay the process of an inquiry so sometimes it takes a long time to finalise.

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