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DA murder trial judgment postponed

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“This is not proper procedure, all correspondence must be directed to the registrar or my personal assistant”

JUDGMENT in the trial of the five men accused of kidnapping and murdering DA councillor Johannes Baatjies had to be postponed in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday after a new legal representative was brought on board by one of the accused – Zonizelo Richard Magawu.

This follows after Magawu terminated the services of his previous legal representative – Albert Buthelezi.

Magawu appeared alongside his co-accused – Richard Hasane, Tshame Frank Baxane, Thompson Mncedisi Mphondomisa and Matthews Legodu – on charges of murder, kidnapping, the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

A family friend, Shuping Jeffrey Nouse, accompanied Baatjies to a bogus business meeting, in order to apparently discuss an R800 000 tender, on the side of the road between Groenwater and Postmasburg on August 17, 2016.

The following day, when he was supposed to be sworn in as a councillor at Kgatelopele Municipality, 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 and died in hospital a few days later.

Northern Cape High Court Judge President Pule Tlaletsi “did not take kindly” to documents that were sent to his e-mail address upon instruction of Magawu.

“This is not proper procedure, all correspondence must be directed to the registrar or my personal assistant. No indication was given that the documents that were provided to me were sent to any other counsel involved in the matter.”

He added that the documents consisted of heads of arguments that were drawn up by the accused and Buthelezi.

“Certain issues were raised in the documents that suggest that the case may be reopened and certain witnesses called. The additional documents were not part of the proceedings and, in short, were irregularly placed.”

Tlaletsi pointed out that the admission of evidence was closed.

Advocate Obatile Loyalty Maroke, from Mahikeng, informed the court yesterday that he had been requested by Legal Aid South Africa to represent Magawu.

He indicated that he had been instructed by his client to request the court to consider the documents that were in his possession, in conjunction with heads of argument that were submitted by Buthelezi, on behalf of the accused.

Magawu advised the court that only the supplementary heads of arguments should be considered by the court. “The additional points of argument should not be considered.”

He apologised for the manner in which the documents arrived at court.

“I can confirm that on January 14 I submitted documents to the office. I indicated to my attorney that if the arguments would cause a postponement of the judgment, I will withdraw those arguments.”

Senior State prosecutor Hannes Cloete confirmed that the State did not receive the attachments but did not raise any objections to the submission of the supplementary heads of arguments.

“The points of arguments referred to, have been raised already and the aspects have nothing to do with the merits of the case.”

Cloete added that the complaints regarding Magawu’s legal representation had been addressed following the appointment of his new legal representative.

The matter was postponed until May 11.