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Ex-murder accused elected as mayor

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“We have many examples where the main witness died and the State still managed to secure a successful prosecution”

A FORMER accused who was arrested in connection with the murder and kidnapping of DA councillor Johannes Baatjies and a family friend, Jeffrey Nouse, near Danielskuil in 2016, has been elected as the executive mayor of the ZF Mgcawu District Municipality.

Baatjies and Nouse were shot execution style after they were lured to a bogus business meeting, a day before Baatjies was to be sworn in at Kgatelopele Municipality.

The case will resume in the Northern Cape High Court later this month.

Paulus Mgcera was elected mayor during a special council meeting at the ZF Mgcawu district council chambers yesterday.

Mgcera was replaced as a councillor at Kgatelopele Municipality following his arrest on charges of murder and kidnapping.

According to the State, the charges were withdrawn against him in 2017 following the death of a key witness.

ANC provincial spokesperson Tshepo Louw said yesterday that Mgcera had “no case to answer” after the National Prosecuting Authority dropped the charges against him.

“Mgcera assured the organisation of his innocence when this matter arose. Charges were dropped against Mgcera because no evidence was discovered that linked him to the crime,” said Louw.

Louw stated that it was “disingenuous of people to insinuate” that the charges were dropped against Mgcera because the main witness died.

“We have many examples where the main witness died and the State still managed to secure a successful prosecution.

“We appeal to the public to respect the rule of law. No one is guilty until proven otherwise. Mgcera subjected himself to the rigour of the law and charges against him were dropped.”

Louw added that as far as the ANC was concerned, the matter was closed.

“Mgcera can’t be judged through the court of public opinion. We must allow him to live a normal life like anyone else.”

ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga said Mgcera was an experienced councillor who had served for over 20 years in local government.

“The decision is in line with the ANC Provincial Executive Committee that convened on March 9,” said Ngxanga.

“His stature and capacity will strengthen the political leadership of ZF Mgcawu district as he is a disciplined cadre of the ANC. With his experience, he will bring stability on issues of governance at ZF Mgcawu district.”

Ngxanga thanked Lizette Maasdorp for serving as acting executive mayor of the district following the death of the mayor, JJJ Olyn.

“The ANC will support Mgcera and the rest of the council to advance the interests of the people of ZF Mgcawu district. We call upon our people and all stakeholders to work closely with the newly-elected executive mayor and his councillors to continue to deliver adequate services to our people.”