Cape Town - Hazendal businessman William Petersen will find out on Christmas Eve if he will spend his 80th birthday in Pollsmoor Prison.
He appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday for a bail application after being charged with the murder of his neighbour, Anees Dennis, as well as the possession of unlicenced firearms and ammunition.
A total of 25 firearms – comprising various makes and calibres of pistols, rifles and revolvers, as well as 700 rounds of ammunition – were discovered on Petersen's property after his arrest.
Only eight of the firearms were licensed in his name, police said, and Petersen was also unable to account for the loss of two of his own guns.
According to investigating officer, Constable Alvin Fortuin, a plastic bag of gunpowder Petersen apparently used to make bullets, as well as shelves of ammunition, were also found in a room in Petersen's home.
Petersen - a past member of three gun clubs and a former chairperson of one of them - had firearms registered in Sea Point, despite living in Athlone.
Police were investigating why his weapons were not registered in his own district.
Not a flight risk
During his bail application, his attorney, William Booth, read an affidavit in which Petersen – who celebrates his 80th birthday on December 27 – said he was highly regarded in his community and was not a flight risk. His businesses would suffer while he was behind bars, he added.
According to an affidavit from his daughter, Tarryn Fredericks, her father was cautious and safety conscious. He also ensured he complied with gun laws, she said.
Business associates also supplied affidavits, saying he was an "upstanding citizen" with a good reputation.
The matter was postponed to Thursday.
Dennis’s body was found in a room on Williams’s property on December 11.
Shot five times
Dennis, who had been cutting down a tree on the boundary of the two homes since earlier that week, was found under a mattress with an apron covering his face.
He had been shot five times.
Prior to the body being discovered, Williams had reported an attempted burglary at his home. He told police he had shot the intruder, who had fled the scene.
A short while later, photos and SMSes were sent to the police, which said a body had been seen on Petersen's property.
The firearms and ammunition were confiscated after his arrest.