Farmer 'has prior assault conviction'

2018-01-19 13:45
Protesters continued to make their voices heard outside the New Hanover Magistrate’s court on Thursday where Cramond farmer Edward Solomon is on trial on a murder charge.

Protesters continued to make their voices heard outside the New Hanover Magistrate’s court on Thursday where Cramond farmer Edward Solomon is on trial on a murder charge. (Sharika Regchand )

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Edward Solomon, the Cramond farmer charged with murder, has a previous conviction for assault.

State prosecutor Scelo Zuma questioned how the accused could be trusted on bail when he kept his conviction from the court.

But his advocate Brad Osborne said the non-disclosure was innocent. His client was “unaware that paying an admission of guilt fine” meant he has a conviction.

It dates back to 1999 and Solomon paid R100.

The 65-year-old man has been charged in the New Hanover Magistrate’s Court with the murder of Mothi Ngubane and the attempted murder of Mondli Lembethe. He allegedly discharged a firearm at them.

The incident took place on December 30, on Solomon’s farm, when he tried to stop a burial from taking place. He claims he acted in self-defence, but the state has argued that his life was never in danger.

Zuma spent a few hours on Thursday trying to convince the magistrate why she should not give Solomon bail. Zuma said Solomon approached the mourners and left. Returning a few minutes later, he allegedly began to fire shots before shooting Ngubane, who fell to the ground.

It is further alleged that the grey-haired man then paced up and down next to the body, barring anyone from coming near it.

Zuma said that when Solomon left the scene initially he was angry and formed an intention to come back and shoot the men.

“He may not have had the intention to shoot and kill Ngubane, but the intention to shoot any funeral-goer, that was there.”

The prosecutor said the court had to weigh the defence and state sides. He strenuously urged the court to hold it against Solomon that he did not testify in court, but rather submitted a statement.

Zuma said Solomon could interfere with witnesses and that he had to know them because they lived on his farm.

He also spoke about the “public rage” the matter has attracted, saying the farmer’s conduct spurred shock in the local community and nationally. Solomon’s partner was attacked at her home, which indicated the public would take the law into their own hands if he were released.

But Osborne countered saying Solomon will leave the area. In that way, he will not be in a position to interfere with witnesses and his own life will not be put in danger.

Of the state’s case, Osborne said, “we don’t know how credible the witnesses will be”.

Solomon’s appearance again attracted protesters outside the court.

Judgment has been adjourned until next week.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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