Klofies prosecutor to tackle Reitz 4

2010-07-23 18:11

Bloemfontein - Senior State prosecutor Johan Kruger, who charged the Waterkloof four, will also lead the prosecution in the crimen injuria trial of the former University of the Free State students, known as the Reitz four.

RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler are accused of humiliating five black workers - four women and a man - in an initiation-type ceremony in 2007, which they filmed while living at the university's now closed Reitz men's residence.

The trial starts on Tuesday.

The so-called Waterkloof Four, four teenagers from the upmarket Pretoria suburb, are currently serving 12-year-jail terms for the murder and assault of a homeless man in 2003. They were found guilty in 2005.

Top legal minds

Legal counsel for the UFS students, Christo Dippenaar this week confirmed that defence lawyer Kemp J Kemp would represent the students in court.

Kemp led the defence in President Jacob Zuma's rape trial in 2006 and when Zuma faced corruption charges in relation to South Africa's controversial multi-billion-rand arms deal.

Usually a crimen injuria case in South Africa would not attract two heavyweight legal minds because such a matter involved basic criminal law and was not seen as technically difficult.

However, former North West University lecturer in criminal law Professor Tom Coetzee said the case had made international headlines.

"The matter has had such repercussions that it was in the interest of all sides, the State and the defence, to have prominent law representatives."

Coetzee said the four accused would want the best possible representation and someone with Kemp J Kemp's reputation probably forced the State to appoint someone to match him.

"I do not think it is anything more than that."

Restorative justice

Coetzee said the State also do not want to be seen to be taking the matter lightly by appointing a prosecutor with less experience than Kemp.

The criminal trial followed failed attempts at restorative justice in 2009. The workers indicated they were not interested in such a process and wanted criminal proceedings to continue.

The Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court postponed the matter in 2009 for the process of restorative justice after the students made representations to the provincial director for public prosecutions.

At the time it was said the complainants in the matter Emmah Koko, Nkgapeng Adams, Mankoe Phororo, Sebuaseng Ntlatseng and David Molete did not have to give reasons for refusing mediation.

The Human Rights Commission also started separate legal proceedings against the four students and the UFS in the Bloemfontein Equality Court on behalf of the workers.

Papers filed at the equality court indicate that Advocate Win Trengove would be senior counsel for the applicants (workers) in the matter.