Home News Accused found guilty of DA man’s murder

Accused found guilty of DA man’s murder

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They were lured by the accused to the meeting – apparently to discuss an R800 000 paving tender on the side of the road between Groenwater and Postmasburg.

ALL FIVE accused in the double murder and kidnapping trial of slain DA councillor Johannes Baatjies and a family friend, Shuping Jeffrey Nouse, were found guilty of murder by the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday. 

They were not convicted on the kidnapping charges, as the State explained that it would amount to a duplication of the murder charges. 

The accused – Richard Hasane, Tshame Frank Baxane, Zoniselo Richard Magawu, Thompson Mncedisi Mphondomisa and Matthews Legodu – will return to court on June 24 for sentencing proceedings. 

Northern Cape High Court Judge President Pule Tlaletsi also found Baxane and Mphondomisa guilty on charges of being in the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. 

Nouse accompanied Baatjies on August 17, 2016 to a business proposal meeting – a day before he was to be sworn in as a councillor at Kgatelopele Municipality, following the local government elections. 

They were lured by the accused to the meeting – apparently to discuss an R800 000 paving tender on the side of the road between Groenwater and Postmasburg.

Baatjies’ body was discovered lying on the side of the road, with bullet wounds to the head, upper body and forehead. Nouse was found shot in the face in the passenger seat of a bakkie. He died in hospital on August 23, 2016. 

Tlaletsi believed that the version of events provided by the accused were “impractical, improbable, weak and was riddled with inconsistencies”.

“Enticing as the R20 000 may be, Hasane must have known that it was far too much just to transport some passengers on an innocent trip. He must have been aware that someone would be killed,” said Tlaletsi. 

“The accused must have seen the targeted victim’s car that was parked next to the graveyard and then lured them to a more convenient spot, to divert attention.”  

Tlaletsi stated that the accused wanted the police to investigate the possibility that Baatjies would have had the “10 percent commission” with him, which would allegedly have been paid over in exchange for facilitating the R800 000 paving tender, when he attended the business meeting. 

The Judge President added that Magawu, who was the branch secretary of the ANC of Ward one in Danielskuil and also a candidate who contested the local government elections, had informed the police that councillors did not get involved in tenders.

“He accused the police of fabricating evidence against him. He told the police that he was a parliamentary officer and that he had nothing to gain out of Baatjies’ death.” 

Tlaletsi dismissed Mphondomisa’s version that a State witness, Tiro Lekgotla, had implicated the accused after he had conned him during a diamond deal. 

“The accused said that he was willing to buy a stone that was supposedly a diamond from Lekgotla for R10 000. He gave him R5 000 and promised to pay him the balance. On August 12 ,2016 he told Lekgotla that he did not have the outstanding money and would return the stone. He instead gave him a piece of glass and assured Lekgotla that it was a real diamond.” 

He said that Lekgotla demanded his money on August 17 as he wanted to take his car for a service, for an upcoming trip to Pretoria. 

“He warned him that if the accused did not give him the money he would regret it. Mphondomisa told him to report the matter to the police, as the transaction was illegal.” 

Tlaletsi indicated that the accused was not able to explain how his co-accused were also implicated or why they continued to associate themselves with him following the “diamond knock” incident.

“Hasane described Lekgotla as being a bad character, who was involved in fraud and dealing in unlicensed firearms. They also stated that Lekgotla had intended to commit a robbery. It makes no sense for them to accompany him to Postmasburg.” 

He stated that Hasane had lied during his bail hearing in order to protect Baxane and Mphondomisa. “He wanted to create the impression that they were not together on the trip to Postmasburg.” 

Tlatetsi pointed out that Legodu was the only accused who had the financial means to offer R20 000 to finance the killing. “He was self-employed and was a senior member of the ANC regional executive committee. He would not have struggled to get the R20 000 as it was like pocket money for him. 

“Legodu testified that he had secured tenders at mines, government and municipalities amounting to millions of rand. He was contracted to provide transport services. He stated that he relied on contracts with the private sector as municipalities did not have big capital to fund tenders.” 

He added that the accused foresaw the possibility that Baatjies would not come alone. 

“Provision was made that there should not be any eyewitnesses to the murder. Lekgotla, who provided the transport, sought cover after the first shot was fired. 

“The accused admitted that as a senior member of the party (ANC) he stood to gain from the killing.”