Margate pub murder accused denied bail
Dries Liebenberg & Indhrannie Pillay, The Witness
Ramsgate - A KwaZulu-Natal magistrate has denied bail to four men charged with the alleged racial murder of a man after an altercation over a cigarette.
When he heard magistrate Elise Coetzer say that bail was denied, the tall and strongly-built Jakes Putter, 33, dropped his head and clenched his teeth.
He and his three co-accused - Douw van der Walt, 33, Petrus (Lappies) Opperman, 48, and Carel Volschenk, 49 - will spend at least the next six months behind bars.
The four men, who all pleaded not guilty, are charged with the murder of Lwandile Mampofu, 26, after an altercation over a cigarette in the Lighthouse Pub and Grill in Margate on August?14.
In the packed public gallery, Putter’s fiancée of eight years wiped away a tear.
Coetzer started by expressing her sympathy with the families of both the victim and the accused, because, she said, “most of the time it is them that suffer the most.”
Putter testified in his bail hearing that he and his co-accused sleep in shifts in fear of their lives while they share a Margate police cell with 13 black awaiting-trial suspects “who sing racist songs until late at night”.
According to the State, Putter had made racist comments as he stepped into the pub on the night of the murder.
Mampofu died of his wounds after a group of men kicked him and jumped on his body, the court heard. Coetzer hoped to move aside the racism issue, “because it has no place in the bail application”.
“The allegations of racism saddened me, because one would like to believe that this is something of the past,” she said.
She said the community was justifiably shocked over such a death. “But I must add that any murder is shocking.”
Coetzer found there is no danger that the four would escape jail, as Warrant Officer Bonginkosi Khoza testified he heard them plan to do.
She added that the State has a strong case with seven witnesses who connect the four accused with the assault on Mampofu.
She said the accused had submitted no extraordinary circumstances to the court why it would be in the interest of justice to let them out on bail.
It was revealed during the bail application that Putter, Van der Walt and Opperman are all employed in the construction industry in Margate in fairly senior positions. The company declined to speak to the media.
Volschenk is a self employed businessman in the IT industry.
“I am very glad today. I want them to stay inside,” said Emsie Mampofu, the mother of the murdered victim.
The family of the accused did not want to comment on Coetzer’s bail decision. Van der Walt’s wife is expecting the couple’s second child.
The case has been postponed to September 30.