Murder accused farmer granted R50 000 bail

Cramond farmer Edward Philip Solomon, who allegedly shot and killed a man who was attending a funeral on his land, has been granted R50 000 bail.

The 65-year-old man on Thursday appealed his bail refusal in the Pietermaritzburg high court.

Judge Jacqueline Henriques attached strict conditions to his bail. She said: “Given the public interest and concerns raised about public safety, the conditions will remain confidential.”

Solomon is charged with the murder of Mothi Ngubane and the attempted murder of Mondli Lembethe on December 30 last year.

At the time, the Lembethes, who lived on Solomon’s farm in Otto’s Bluff, were attending a funeral there.

The magistrate who had denied Solomon bail said it was in the interest of public order and that Solomon might interfere with witnesses and destroy evidence if released.

Solomon claims that when he went to the funeral, an argument began between him and the mourners.

He was scared and was cornered by the mourners. He added that he began firing shots because he feared his gun would be taken from him.

However, the state was adamant that his life was never in danger.

Days after the incident, Solomon’s life partner, Marie Louise Bucher (60), was assaulted by intruders at their farm.

While in custody, Solomon was allegedly threatened by fellow inmates and later kept in isolation.

On Thursday, Judge Henriques was told there were new facts in the matter, subsequent to the bail refusal.

Solomon’s advocate Gerhard van der Walt said one was that Solomon’s health was ailing because he was not getting the food he required in prison. As he was in isolation, he was not allowed to eat any food brought to him from the outside.

The other was that he had sold his farm to enable him to afford legal representation. He added that Solomon was not a flight risk and had family ties in the province.

State advocate Mbongeni Mthembu used the latter against Solomon, saying it was all the more reason for him to flee as he has no assets. He later agreed there were ways to discourage Solomon from absconding — through bail conditions.

The judge asked Mthembu what evidence there was that Solomon would evade trial or interfere with state witnesses, because his passport was confiscated and he would live at an alternate address. “None,” he replied.

Solomon’s attorney, Anusha Ganas of J Leslie Smith and Company, said after the case that Solomon was unwell and needed to be released to get better.

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