DNA samples taken from Brendin Horner’s bakkie cannot be linked to accused, court hears

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Sekola Matlaletsa, 44, and Sekwetje Mahlamba 32, the men accused of murdering farm manager Brendin Horner.
Sekola Matlaletsa, 44, and Sekwetje Mahlamba 32, the men accused of murdering farm manager Brendin Horner.
News24/Alex Mitchley
  • DNA samples were taken from slain Brendin Horner's bakkie and analysed by a private laboratory. 
  • The results excluded one of the men accused of killing him as his DNA profile did not match that of the samples collected.
  • The DNA swab taken from the other accused was defective and therefore came back as inconclusive. 

The DNA samples taken from slain Brendin Horner's bakkie could not be linked to the two men accused of murdering him on a farm in Paul Roux.

This was revealed by the State during the bail application of Sekwetje Mahlamba and Sekola Matlaletsa in the Senekal Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

The men are accused of killing the farm manager on 1 October.

The State made the admission about the samples after the legal aid attorney for Matlaletsa questioned why the police had taken DNA swabs of the accused on 15 October when it was previously relayed to court that all evidence for forensic testing had been submitted on 5 October.

The State said a private investigator had taken samples from Horner's bakkie, which was found around 13km from the crime scene parked next to the N5 that cuts across Senekal, Paul Roux and Bethlehem.

These samples were taken to a private but accredited laboratory and were already analysed. 

News24 previously reported the results of the analysis revealed the DNA profiles of three different men were present in the samples collected from the inside and outside of the bakkie. 

Following the outcome of the analysis, it was decided to take Mahlamba and Matlaletsa's DNA to see if there was a match.

The results showed neither of the men could be linked to Horner's bakkie, as the one DNA profile was not a match and the other swab was defective so the test came back inconclusive. 

The State did not reveal which test belonged to which accused. 

The other DNA found matched that of Horner. 

ALSO READ | Brendin Horner suspects 'boasted about assaulting white man on farm'

While Mahlamba and Matlaletsa could not be conclusively linked to the bakkie, the State said this did not deter its case but rather strengthened it in terms of one of its witness statements.

It hinged this on the evidence of a witness who alleged he saw three men, including the two accused, walking in a veld coming from the direction of where the murder took place.

The witness also told the police two of the men had wet clothes and Mahlamba's clothes were bloodstained. 

Had Mahlamba and Matlaletsa been walking from where the bakkie was abandoned, they would have been walking from another direction entirely, the court heard.

The State also put it on record there were more attackers, which could explain the one DNA profile not matching the samples taken from Horner's bakkie.

The legal aid attorneys for Mahlamba and Matlaletsa held a different view and believed this forensic evidence proved their clients were not involved in the murder. 

Private attorney Joseph Kgoelenya, appointed by Legal Aid to represent Mahlamba, told the court the State had no physical evidence that linked him to the crime and was instead relying on weak circumstantial evidence of witnesses who were drinking at a tavern.

Kgoelenya was referring to the two independent witnesses who claimed the two accused had boasted about assaulting a white man on a farm.

The accused allegedly made these statements while at a tavern on the evening of 2 October, the same day that Horner's body was discovered.

Legal Aid attorney Machini Motloung, for Matlaletsa, said the evidence was wobbly and littered with discrepancies.

"I submit that in the light of the latest discovery [DNA on the bakkie] that whatever versions the applicants have been putting forward is a version that cannot be at this moment shaken by the State," Motloung added.

He said Matlaletsa also had an alibi and his wife had given a statement under oath stating he was with her on the evening of 1 October into the morning of the following day.  

Mahlamba's girlfriend also claimed he was with her, but later submitted to the police when she woke up at around 23:00, he was no longer there and only returned the next morning. 

The State argued the DNA samples taken from the bakkie did not make or break the case and there was still a prima facie case against the accused based on the independent witness statements. 

It is also still awaiting the forensic analysis of the knife, Horner's hat and the rope that was used to strangle him, all found at the crime scene as well as the analysis of the items of clothing seized from the accused when they were arrested. 

Judgment in the bail application is expected to be handed down on Thursday.

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