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Four appear for Els murder

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They allegedly assaulted and tortured Els and his partner by, among other things, burning them with a clothes iron

FROM LEFT: Morapedi Rankali, Motlalentwe Qhautse, Thuso Ramolo and Itumeleng Setlhabi appeared in court on Friday on charges of murder, rape and housebreaking with the intent to rob. Picture: Soraya Crowie

FOUR men have been officially charged with the murder of prominent local businessman Piet Els, who died in hospital following a brutal attack on his farm outside Kimberley earlier this year.

The four accused – Morapedi Rankali, Motlalentwe Qhautse, Thuso Ramolo and Itumeleng Setlhabi – appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges of murder, rape and housebreaking with the intent to rob, following an incident that occurred on Els’ farm, Carter’s Ridge, on January 23, when he and his 67-year-old partner were viciously attacked by suspects who forced their way into Els’ farmhouse situated on the Schmidtsdrift Road just outside of Kimberley.

They allegedly assaulted and tortured Els and his partner by, among other things, burning them with a clothes iron.

The suspects fled the scene in Els’ white Mercedes-Benz after allegedly stealing firearms, jewellery, cash and cellphones. The car was later found abandoned next to the R31 road to Barkly West.

Els was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at Mediclinic Gariep after the incident, where he died on May 15, almost four months after the attack, as a result of the injuries sustained during the attack.

Murder charges were brought against the four accused following Els’ death.

The State on Friday also indicated that a fifth suspect had been arrested in Johannesburg and was expected to make his first appearance in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court during the next scheduled appearance.

The matter was postponed on Friday to later this month for the fifth suspect to be added to the list of accused, and to arrange a date for a bail application for Setlhabi.

State prosecutor Elmar Steyn indicated that while the men stood accused of murder, rape and housebreaking with the intent to rob (housebreaking aggravated), “more charges could still possibly be added”.

Steyn further indicated that the matter would in all likelihood be transferred to the Northern Cape High Court.