Judge: Teen murder suspect no flight risk

2012-09-03 18:27
The 16-year-old suspected of murdering a Griekwastad family is seen outside the town's court. (Emile Hendricks, Volksblad)

The 16-year-old suspected of murdering a Griekwastad family is seen outside the town's court. (Emile Hendricks, Volksblad)

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Kimberley - The Griekwastad Children's Court on Monday granted bail of R5 000 to a 16-year-old boy arrested in connection with the murders of a local farming family.

Magistrate Oswald Mazwi said that after considering all relevant evidence placed before the court, it would be in the interest of justice for the child to be released on bail.

He said the child was not a flight risk, was receiving schooling and would not interfere with witnesses.

It also appeared that the child would not be a threat to any other person.

He said the State had a prima facie case against him, but continued detention of the child, pending the trial, was not warranted.

After the ruling, the boy was hugged by family and friends attending proceedings.

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

'No direct evidence'

In the last court appearance, Willem Coetzee, for the boy, told the court the State had no direct evidence to link the boy to the Griekwastad farm murder.

Bail conditions for the boy include that he attends his trial in the Northern Cape High Court when it starts and that he be released in his guardian’s care.

He must further attend school and the investigator must be informed of any change of address.

Delivering judgment, Mazwi said the provisions of the Child Justice Act (CJA) should supersede those of the Criminal Procedure Act otherwise the objectives of the CJA would be rendered futile.

He said a valid argument could be made that the CJA was a call for a mind shift or transformation by all those privileged to be practising law in whatever capacity.

Mazwi said those in law must put in extra effort in the development of criminal justice jurisprudence for children, separate from adults, not just in fancy words not benefiting children but by real effort in understanding the individual child before a court.

He said it would be obvious that in the majority of instances the court’s rulings may be unpopular but that should not serve as a deterrent in the courts from striving to achieve the CJA’s objectives.

In reaction, Northern Cape NPA spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said no decision to appeal had been taken.

He said the prosecutor in the case would discuss the bail judgment with the director of public prosecutions and then a decision would be taken on a possible appeal application.

The State and the boy’s defence indicated that a trial date could be possible in the Northern Cape High court in Kimberley by early December.

- SAPA

Read more on:    deon steenkamp  |  kimberley  |  griekwastad murders
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