Groblersdal assault case: Corrie Pretorius denied bail because his life is in danger, court finds

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  • Corrie Pretorius is accused of assaulting a teenager and pointing a firearm in Groblersdal in June. 
  • On Wednesday, the court dismissed his bail bid.
  • It found Pretorius' life would be in danger if he was released from custody.

Corrie Pretorius, the man accused of assaulting a teenager outside a fish and chips shop in Groblersdal, Limpopo has been denied bail because his life may be in danger if he is released from custody.

Pretorius appeared in the Groblersdal Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, where magistrate Nancy Mathavha handed down judgment in respect of the bail application.

However, before giving judgment, Pretorius' defence, advocate JJ Venter, successfully applied to reopen the case.

This was to place an eyewitness affidavit into the court record, which Venter argued showed the police had not investigated the case diligently and that the investigating officer was biased in his approach to the investigation.

Corrie Pretorius appears in court wearing face mask
Corrie Pretorius
Netwerk24 Isabel Venter

He said this also showed the State's case was not as strong as it led the court to believe.

The witness account effectively painted the victim along with his friends as the provocateurs in the incident, which included allegations the teenagers were drunk, disorderly and tried to grab Pretorius' gun.

It also sought to shed light on what allegedly transpired before the 41-second video, which captured Pretorius dragging the victim around on the ground while carrying a firearm.

READ | Groblersdal assault case: Eyewitness claimed complainant provoked accused, bail denied

He is also seen kicking and stomping the boy, who is lying helplessly on the ground.

Prosecutor, advocate Billy Mudavhi, said at most, the affidavit only showed Pretorius was allegedly provoked by the teenagers, which did not justify his actions.

Mudavhi maintained Pretorius still had a criminal case to answer to and the court should deal with the affidavit.               

Life in danger

While the court dealt with the contents of the new affidavit, Mathavha's decision to refuse bail focused solely on Pretorius' safety and the outrage the incident had caused.

In opposing bail, the State argued releasing Pretorius on bail would endanger his life and also potentially disturb the public order, peace and security.

This premised on the fact that a couple of hundred protesters, most of whom were clad in ANC and EFF regalia, protested outside the court while the bail application was being heard.

To justify the notion Pretorius' life may be in danger, the State said the accused's wife had opened a case of intimidation as she had been receiving threatening phone calls since his arrest.

She also allegedly told police that people were coming to her house in the evening, pushing on the gate.     

The investigating officer had also testified people were protesting outside the police station.

Pretorius alleged he had been assaulted while in custody. However, no criminal case had been opened, and no medical report was offered to the court as evidence.

ALSO READ | Man accused of assaulting teen outside fish and chips shop in danger if released on bail

"Due to the nature of the charges and the allegations as covered in details by the media my life is under threat in correctional services," he said in his affidavit.

"As conveyed to the SAPS by the legal representatives, I have been severely assaulted while incarcerated and it cannot be stated that I am not faced with the distinct possibility of being assaulted again." 

Despite this, the court accepted the State's arguments that Pretorius' life would be at stake if he was released on bail.       

Mathavha said her judgment was not deciding on the guilt or innocence of the accused, but the interest of justice did not permit Pretorius' release on bail because his life and safety would be at risk. 

After handing down judgment, Venter requested a written judgment as a matter of urgency, presumably to prepare for an appeal in the High Court.

The case was postponed to 6 September for further investigation.

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