Lawyer: Magistrate was misdirected

2013-06-06 18:50
Dr Louis Heyns (Supplied)

Dr Louis Heyns (Supplied)

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Cape Town - A magistrate was misdirected in postponing the case of three men arrested in connection with the robbery and murder of Dr Louis Heyns, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

"He [the Somerset West magistrate] made no enquiry as to why they [the State] need seven days. He even said he's a creature of statute," lawyer William Booth said.

Booth was representing 37-year-old Juan Liedeman, who was charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances after Heyns's vehicle was found on his Malmesbury business premises two weeks ago.

His co-accused, Marthinus van der Walt, 33, and his brother Sarel van der Walt, 42, were charged with Heyns's murder.

The body of the Stellenbosch University medical professor was found in a shallow grave in Strand last week.

Booth wanted the Western Cape High Court to urgently review Magistrate NB Magutywa's decision to postpone the matter for a full seven days, the maximum time allowed in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

If the high court set aside this decision, the matter would be sent back to the lower court and allow Liedeman to apply for bail this week still.

The three are due back in court on Monday.

At their last appearance, the State requested a postponement to allow the provincial Director of Public Prosecutions, Rodney de Kock, to decide what schedule the crimes would fall under.

The schedule of a crime can dictate in certain cases that exceptional circumstances must be proved for an accused to be released on bail.

Booth said his client was in no way involved in Heyns's murder.

"He was not at the [murder] scene or in any way involved with the taking of the vehicle or robbery, when he [only] came into possession of it [the vehicle] later. How can he be linked?" Booth asked.

Judge Siraj Desai argued that Liedeman's role was still being determined and that the postponement had likely been granted to allow the State time to investigate the circumstances.

"In this case, as the case develops, his precise role will become apparent when the State unfurls its whole case... .Why do you want to prejudice the State's case?" he asked Booth.

The judge said the State had an entitlement, in a case as serious as the present one, to proceed at a "steady pace".

Booth said "media hype" had caused his client to be bundled up with his co-accused's situation.

He believed that allowing Liedeman to be released on bail with stringent conditions would not jeopardise the case as he was not a flight risk and would not interfere with the case or witnesses.

Desai said the blame for any hype could only be placed on Liedeman, and not the media.

"Your client, by taking this car, chopping this car [taking it apart to sell for scrap], pulled himself into the vortex of the offence," the judge said.

"We can't just go on words [in his affidavit]. You have to be realistic about the context of criminal justice."

Prosecutor Samantha Raphaels told the court the State intended opposing Liedeman's bail application on Monday.

Read more on:    louis heyns  |  cape town

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