Men accused of murdering Brendin Horner released on bail following DNA evidence

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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.
Alex Mitchley/News24
  • The two men accused of murdering Brendin Horner have been released on bail.
  • It emerged the DNA results could not link the accused to the murder. 
  • Both men were released on bail of R5 000 each. 

The two men accused of murdering Free State farm manager, Brendin Horner, in October last year have been released on bail after it emerged they could not be linked through DNA analysis.

Sekwetje Mahlamba, 32, and Sekola Matlaletsa, 44, appeared in the Senekal Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, where they applied for bail on new facts.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phaladi Shuping told News24 the court accepted the new facts, which included:

- The DNA results are available and do not link the accused to the commission of the crime;

- It was initially reported that Horner was killed in the early hours of 2 October, but now the State said he was murdered between 19:00 and 20:00 on 1 October.

News24 previously reported that bloodstained clothes had been found at Mahlamba's house when he was arrested.

Mahlamba had claimed the blood was from an animal he had slaughtered for a traditional ceremony.

However, the State said it had witness testimony that Mahlamba had not attended the ceremony.

The bloodstained clothes, Horner's hat, a knife found at the scene, and the rope used to strangle the 21-year-old farm manager were taken for forensic analysis.

It has now emerged that none of the DNA matches either of the accused, nor does the blood on Mahlamba's clothes match that of Horner, Shuping confirmed.

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

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

The State made the admission about the samples after Matlaletsa's legal aid attorney 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.

During their first bail application, the State alleged that 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.

Free State farm manager Brandin Horner
Brendin Horner.
Facebook Facebook, Brendin Horner

The analysis results 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.

READ | Bloodstains, witnesses - bail application gives insight into case against Brendin Horner murder accused

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.

While the DNA results have dealt a big blow to the State's case and resulted in both accused being granted bail, Shuping said the charges would not be withdrawn against Mahlamba and Matlaletsa as DNA was not the only evidence that they were relying on.

Shuping added that the State applied for the cancellation of Matlaletsa's bail, but the court dismissed that application and released him.

Both men were granted bail of R5 000 each.

The matter has been postponed to 23 August for a pre-trial in the high court.

Murder

Horner was strangled to death on the farm, where he worked. His body was discovered the following day by his colleagues.

EXPLAINER | What the State and defence have argued in the Brendin Horner murder case

News24 previously reported that Horner was stabbed several times and had abrasions to his thigh, which seemed to indicate that he had been dragged across a gravel road.

His body was found tied to the bottom of a fence pole, metres from the gate to the house where he and his girlfriend lived on the farm.

Mahlamba and Matlaletsa were arrested soon after Horner's body was discovered.

Both men said they had alibis and would plead not guilty to the charges.

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