Waterkloof 2: prisons blame the court

2012-01-28 20:09

Magistrate says release was for community

The correctional services department has put the blame for the early release of two of the Waterkloof Four killers squarely on the shoulders of Pretoria magistrate Peet Johnson.

In the notice of application for leave to appeal dated December 28, the department argues that Johnson “erred in law by considering the applications lodged by the correctional supervision and parole board” for Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt’s 12-year sentences for murder to be converted into correctional supervision.

The department wants both men back behind bars because they “do not qualify for their sentence to be referred to the court for conversion of sentence”.

It argues that Johnson also committed a legal blunder “by hearing the application of the offenders where the (area commissioner Tozamile Tana) had not been informed in writing of the date for which the matter has been set down on the roll”.

State attorney Ben Minnaar, who filed the application on behalf of the department, also argues that Johnson – who said his release of the two was in the interests of the men and the community – should not have determined the date for the release of the men.

“The learned magistrate erred in law by determining or fixing a date of placement of the offenders under correctional supervision as the determination of such date is within the discretion of the parole board,” read the court papers.

However, it will be up to Johnson to decide whether the department can appeal to the high court or not.

A court date for the appeal is expected to be set down next week.

Ironically, the department is arguing for a review of the decision because when the Zonderwater parole board considered their application and approached the court for the decision, it never consulted the relatives of the homeless man killed in the 2001 assault during a drunken night out.

But the victim assaulted and killed in Pretoria’s Moreleta Park by Tiedt, Van Schalkwyk and two friends, Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez – who are still behind bars – was never identified.

All four were teenagers at the time of the murder.

The post-mortem report conducted on the victim by medical examiner Alida van der Hoven showed that police found no identification on the man. The report shows that the thin, heavily tattooed man who weighed 59kg and was 1.7m tall, died from the fatal knife wound sustained in the attack.

The lawyer for the pardoned men, Jenny Brewis, said the department was “grasping at straws” in its appeal.

She reiterated her views that the department’s basis for an appeal is motivated by “political” emotions in an attempt to get Van Schalkwyk and Tiedt back behind bars.

Both served less than three years of their 12-year sentence.

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