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Murder accused warned about delaying tactics

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The two had previously excused themselves from court proceedings, but the magistrate laid down the law yesterday

WARNED: Neville Cooper and Faizel Martins were warned by the Kimberley Regional Court about their constant disruptions during court proceedings. Picture: Soraya Crowie

TWO MEN accused of murder were yesterday warned by the Kimberley Regional Court that proceedings would continue in their absence should they choose not to attend court.

The two accused, Neville Cooper and Faizel Martins, had previously excused themselves from court proceedings, citing various reasons ranging from the recusal of the State prosecutor and the magistrate as well as having assessors present.

Magistrate Veliswa Setyata told the accused that assessors could not be appointed as the matter had already proceeded and the State had closed its case.

“The assessors cannot be appointed at this stage of the case. During a previous appearance, the court indicated that assessors could be appointed. However, this was a mistake on the part of the court. The attorneys you appointed previously, said that it was not necessary for assessors. The matter will now continue without assessors,” said Setyata.

The accused, who opted to represent themselves, argued that the court had treated them unfairly and as if they had already been convicted.

Cooper became angry and stepped out of the dock as Setyata read them their rights. He later went down to the holding cells, leaving his co-accused in the dock.

Martins told the court that he intended to appoint his own lawyer. “We are not capable of continuing with the matter as we were under the impression we would be informed about the assessors. We have not prepared ourselves for the case. I will be appointing my own personal lawyer to run my defence,” he said.

Setyata said she would allow a postponement for the new legal representative but warned the accused that the matter would in future continue in their absence if they used the same delaying tactics.

“Your conduct has made it impractical for the court to continue with the matter. This court deems it necessary and in the interests of justice to continue and conclude the matter. If you choose to continue with your conduct then the court has the right to proceed with the case in your absence. Due to the gravity of the matter, the court will allow the accused an opportunity to get a lawyer,” she said.

The two men are accused of killing Jan Mokwang on October 26, 2011 after they allegedly threw a rock at his head and assaulted him.

Mokwang died in the intensive care unit at the Kimberley Hospital on November 13, 2011.

A witness testified that on the night of the incident, one of the accused approached Mokwang and asked him for some money. The accused then hit him when he said he did not have any money.

The witness said Mokwang fell and the other accused hit him on the head with a rock.

The witness stated further that five men then assaulted Mokwang by kicking and trampling on him.

The witness said the group of men then ran away.

Another suspect was acquitted on the charges after he could not be linked to the matter.

The case was yesterday postponed for the continuation of trial.