Court dismisses Griekwastad appeal

2012-11-28 13:40
The Steenkamp farm in Naauwhoek, Northern Cape. (Emile Hendricks, Volksblad)

The Steenkamp farm in Naauwhoek, Northern Cape. (Emile Hendricks, Volksblad)

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Bloemfontein - The appeal against the bail of a 16-year-old boy accused of the Griekwastad family farm murders was dismissed in the Northern Cape High Court on Wednesday.

The State appealed against the R5 000 bail granted to the boy in the Griekwastad Magistrate's Court earlier.

The boy was arrested for the murders of Northern Cape farmer Deon Steenkamp, aged 44, his wife Christelle, aged 43, and their daughter Marthella, aged 14, who were shot dead on the family farm Naauwhoek on 6 April.

The trial was expected to start in March next year.

Appealing the magistrate's bail judgment, the National Prosecuting Authority contended that the magistrate erred in finding the boy was not a danger to those around him.

The State argued the magistrate over-emphasised the boy being a child.

Case still to be proved

Delivering judgment, Kimberley High Court judges Cecile Williams and Pule Tlaletsi held the only factor the State advanced on the boy being a danger to society was the degree of violence towards others implicit in charges against him.

However, the State's case has still to be proved at trial.

Other relevant factors to be considered were that he was not a flight risk, was in no position to interfere with witnesses, and it could not be reasonably inferred that he was a danger to the public or would commit other offences.

The judges found the boy had led an exemplary life in the past and that proper schooling could not be guaranteed at a youth centre.

He was now also in a stable environment with a guardian where he received the necessary guidance and discipline before trial.

The judges also found that the argument by the boy's counsel that being a child could be seen as an exceptional circumstance on its own was wrong.

The court held children had been shown to commit the most heinous crimes, to be repeat offenders, and to be a danger to society.

"The respondent [boy] being a child is an important factor, which should be taken into account together with all the other relevant factors in determining whether special circumstances exist," the judgment reads.

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