‘Ruling a shock to all’

2016-11-30 06:00
Members of the community packed the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court for the case of Keitumetse Magwadibane, who went missing in July. Photos: Boipelo Mere

Members of the community packed the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court for the case of Keitumetse Magwadibane, who went missing in July. Photos: Boipelo Mere

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Tempers flared outside the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court as Magistrate André Williams struck the case of missing Keitumetse Magwa­dibane (5) off the court roll due to a lack of evidence on Tuesday (22/11).

Shocked and angry members of the community, who had attended after the previous postponement on Tuesday, 18 October, threatened to drive all the suspects out of the community and the province.

Little Keitumetse disappeared from his home on 14 July.

The police, together with members of the Wanya Tsotsi neighbourhood watch group, conducted search parties and followed several leads in and around Galeshewe.

On 21 July, investigations led to the arrest of the four accused, Joseph Mgobo, Nomsa Mazibuko, Maruping Magwabone and Clarens Mkhonto.

They have spent up to five months in jail after being charged with kidnapping.

On Tuesday, the four walked out of the courtroom due to a lack of evidence.

While community members were threatening to kill the accused and burn down their homes, Keitumetse’s mother, Margaret, lashed out about how the judicial system failed them. Her husband, Frans Magwadibane, fainted outside the court building.

According to Magistrate Williams, the ruling had been made because the state does not have enough evidence to link the suspects to the crime.

Expressing how helpless they feel as a family, Margaret said they are still reeling from the pain and suffering of not knowing whether their child is dead or alive.

“The ruling was a shock to everyone. No parent will be able to sleep peacefully without knowing where their child is. We will continue to follow up on each and every lead that we get,” she said in tears.

“This is an indication that victims cannot really depend on our justice system.

If these people got off so lightly, then it means that the South African justice system is poor. We are going to pull all strings to ensure that justice is served.”

According to the magistrate, no progress is being made in the investigation of the case.

“It is a balancing act, as the rights of both the accused and the victim’s family have to be taken into consideration,” he said.

Unpacking his judgement in the packed courtroom, Magistrate Williams said it was not recommended that the case be granted another postponement, as it will lead to reappearing after Christmas.

He emphasised the seriousness of the offence of kidnapping, but pointed out that every accused has the right to a fair and speedy trial under the Constitution.

According to MagistrateWilliams’ knowledge, the release of DNA results usually takes up to three months.

“Another postponement of this trial will not be considered and the case is therefore struck from the roll.”

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