Griekwastad trial put off

2013-12-13 00:00

KIMBERLEY — The teenager accused in the Griekwastad family murders looked relieved and happy yesterday when his trial was postponed until next March.

Judge President Frans Kgomo, who was supposed to hand down judgment yesterday, made his decision after the boy and his guardian ended their legal team’s mandate unexpectedly on Wednesday, citing a “serious loss of trust” and “irreconcilable differences”.

Emotions ran high in the court, as on the one hand, relatives of Deon, Christel and Marthella Steenkamp felt they deserved judgment so they could begin to move on.

On the other hand, supporters of the boy were glad that the postponement had bought him another three months before he must face the music.

He is accused of the three murders, the rape of Marthella and the attempted obstruction of justice in the murders at the farm Naauuwhoek on Good Friday 2012.

The boy’s guardian on Wednesday ended the mandate of attorney Stoffel de Jager and advocates Willem Coetzee and Sharon Erasmus.

Documents handed in at court show that there had been differences of opinion with the legal team for some time.

The guardian said in a affidavit that there had been tension several times over the course of the past month.

Matters apparently came to a head with the team’s closing arguments on Monday.

Coetzee said then that there was no proof that the boy was responsible for the rape of Marthella and implied it could have been her father who raped her.

Documents detailing specific reasons for the breakdown of trust were handed in, but Kgomo denied the media access to these because those against whom allegations were made had no opportunity to defend themselves.

Prosecutor advocate Hannes Cloete objected to the postponement, calling it a “final cynical attempt to manipulate the legal process”.

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