Rugby attack suspects all free on bail

2013-04-08 19:04
Blayne Shepard, Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, Dustin van Wyk and Grant Cramer appear in the Durban Magistrate's Court. (Giordano Stolley, Sapa)

Blayne Shepard, Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, Dustin van Wyk and Grant Cramer appear in the Durban Magistrate's Court. (Giordano Stolley, Sapa)

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Durban - Four men charged with beating a rugby fan to death were granted bail of R5 000 each by the Durban Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, and Dustin van Wyk were also banned from Kings Park stadium until the completion of their trial.

They are accused of beating Brett Williams, 29, to death at a Super XV match in Durban last month.

The four are each charged with one count of murder, three of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, and one of crimen injuria.

They were also banned from contacting a fifth accused, Grant Cramer, who was released on R2000 bail on Thursday. He is charged with one count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Cramer has also been banned from the stadium.

During the bail application on Monday, prosecutor Krishen Shah said Williams had an altercation with Cramer outside Kings Park stadium on the night of 23 March.

Cramer "had a choke hold" on Williams, and he lost consciousness, Shah told the court.

Paramedics revived him, but the other four accused "kicked and punched" him in a second altercation later on. Paramedics were unable to revive Williams again, and he was declared dead at the scene.

Shah said the attack took place in full view of the public.

He said a relative of one of the accused had threatened a witness to the attack.

He said a woman told the witness: "If you identify my son on Monday you will be killed." A case of intimidation had yet to be opened.

Shah said there had also been threats reported against the five accused.

Lawyers for the Shepard brothers, Van der Merwe and Van Wyk told the court they had co-operated with the police and had had ample time to flee.

All of them had handed themselves over when asked to by the police.

Willie Lombard, for Van der Merwe, said he had not been identified during a police identity parade.

In granting bail, Magistrate Vanitha Armu said although there had been a public outcry at the attack, it was clear the men were not flight risks.

They had strong ties with the community and no evidence had been presented showing that they had interfered with the case.

"This court cannot be swayed by emotions alone," she said as she announced her decision.

At that moment, someone in the packed courtroom said: "Thank you, Jesus."

The case was postponed to 7 June.

- SAPA

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