Farmers oppose bail for suspects

2010-07-01 00:00

FARMERS gathered yesterday outside the Kokstad Magistrate’s Court — just as they last did on December 17, 2008 — to show their concern about crime and to oppose bail for suspects appearing in court in connection with the brutal attack on Kokstad farmer Allistar McDougal’s cattle, which took place at the end of May. Subsequent to the attack, a note was found on McDougal’s gate demanding that he and his employees vacate the farm within one month or they would be killed.

A special police task team was then established, resulting in the almost immediate arrest of nine suspects. The Kokstad regional court was filled to capacity for the hearing of suspects’ bail application.

At the beginning of court proceedings, the thorny issue of language representation reared its head when the lawyer representing the suspects wanted the case to be conducted in English and isiXhosa.

Their attorney challenged the status quo when the court proceedings were initially conducted in English and Afrikaans.

He argued that he and the suspects speak isiXhosa and it would be appropriate for the proceedings to accommodate their language as well. “I would not want to rely on what is said by the interpreter,” he said.

Investigating officer Warrant Officer Peter Horn opposed bail for the accused, stating that most of them have pending serious cases and convictions that include stock theft, driving without a driver’s licence, housebreaking, theft, and possession of an unlicensed firearm and dagga.

He also said that since the farmer and his family’s lives have been threatened, the suspects should not be granted bail.

Horn also showed the court a letter from the farmers and the community stipulating their concerns as to why the court should not grant bail.

The DA’s deputy provincial leader in KZN and spokesperson on provincial safety and liaison, Sizwe Mchunu, visited Kokstad yesterday. He said he has consistently raised the seriousness of stock theft with the MEC. The case is due to continue today.

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