ET trial starts Monday

2011-10-06 11:14

The trial of the pair accused of hacking to death right-wing leader Eugene Terre’Blanche is scheduled to begin in a high court sitting in Ventersdorp on Monday.

“It’s all systems go. Both prosecution and defence are ready to proceed on October 10,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said.

“We have already consulted with our witnesses and they will be available. We expect nothing to interrupt the running of trial.”

The 69-year-old former Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader was killed in his North West farmhouse in April last year.

According to the charge sheet Chris Mahlangu (28) and a teenager broke into Terre’Blanche’s farmhouse outside Ventersdorp, robbed and “deliberately killed” him in a dispute over wages and missing cattle. The pair worked for him at the time.

Several court delays have resulted in repeated postponements of the trial.

At the last appearance, Judge John Horn expressed dissatisfaction at the delays and the withdrawal of defence lawyer Puna Moroko just days before trial was meant to start, because he was not paid.

Legal Aid attorney advocate Kgomotso Tlouane took over, but said he needed time to track down witnesses crucial to his defence, and examine DNA and forensic evidence, which Moroko had failed to do.

Tlouane said there was a real possibility both defence teams could combine efforts to form a common front.

At the bail hearing, Moroko argued there was no direct evidence linking Mahlangu to the murder, and noted that it was based on suspicion. He submitted Mahlangu acted in self defence.

The State contended the crime had been premeditated.

Prosecutor George Baloyi said the State had “overwhelming evidence” against Mahlangu.

Speculation of sodomy, which arose after national police commissioner General Bheki Cele said a condom was found at the crime scene, was laid to rest.

Mahlangu was released on bail in July last year, but rearrested three months later following a court order revoking his bail.

Judge Julius Matojane of the High Court in Pretoria set aside Mahlangu’s bail, saying the magistrate in Ventersdorp had made “incomprehensive findings” in his awarding of bail.

A post mortem report revealed Terre’Blanche suffered 28 injuries.

The pair were charged with murder, housebreaking, attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances, and crimen injuria.

The minor, who left school to become a herdsman for Terre’Blanche’s 97 cattle, was 15 years old at the time of the murder. He had lived in extreme poverty all his life and after being put in a place of safety received his first pair of shoes and slept on a bed for the first time.

When the two first appeared in court, police resorted to erecting barbed wire fencing to separate white and black crowds following heated confrontations outside the courthouse.

The murder received international media coverage and sparked public debate about race relations and raised questions of whether the crime was politically motivated.

There were also claims the murder was linked to the singing of a struggle song containing the lyrics “shoot the boer” by African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema. It has since been outlawed.

“Whether the killing had political connotations is doubtful,” Horn said at the last court appearance.

“The facts, according to the statements in the charge sheet, show no proof that it was politically motivated.”

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