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Murderer fires third lawyer

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Olyn was convicted of 13 charges, which include murder, attempted murder, the pointing of a firearm, theft, negligent driving, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition

THE PRESENTATION of evidence in mitigation and aggravation ahead of the sentencing of a 35-year-old farmworker, Willem Olyn, was postponed in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday after the convicted murderer fired his legal representative and accused the court of not giving him a fair trial.

Olyn opted to represent himself during the final round of his trial after he showed his third lawyer the door.

He was convicted in August last year of the murder of his 32-year-old employer, Willem van der Westhuizen.

Van der Westhuizen died on his farm Bontheuwel after he was shot in the head with a rifle by Olyn.

Olyn was convicted of 13 charges, which include murder, attempted murder, the pointing of a firearm, theft, negligent driving, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Olyn yesterday accused the court of fraud and treating him unfairly after High Court Judge Mpho Mamosebo explained to him that he could not read the notes he had made on the matter into the trial’s record.

Mamosebo explained that the matter was almost finalised and that Olyn would be afforded the opportunity to read or supply any evidence he has on the case when he makes an application for appeal.

“What you want is not in line with the course of the court. If you are unhappy with the merits of the procedure then you can appeal. There is no way I can allow you, at this stage of the trial, to read what you have written down. I cannot allow a chaotic situation. Once I have finalised the matter, the appeal court and judges will make a ruling on whether my judgment was fair,” said Mamosebo.

“We are in the final stages of this matter and, since you fired your legal representative, you will have to go and clear your mind and think about the mitigating factors you want to put before the court for consideration when making a decision on sentence. You should also state your personal circumstances during the mitigation process. Be mindful that you have been found guilty of a charge of murder which has a prescribed sentence. It is important for you to clear your head and put your submission before court.”

Olyn, however, was adamant that he wanted the trial to be reviewed.

“I had ample time to think about the proceedings in this matter and realised that the trial was not fair. I requested transcripts from my lawyer and never got them. There has been chaos and unfairness from the start of this matter,” said Olyn.

“The court now does not want to afford me an opportunity to state what I have written down. There has been underhanded proceedings going on and the court wants to punish me underhandedly. The court says we are now at the mitigating stage of the matter and I must go and think carefully about what personal circumstances I will put before court. However, how can I ask for mitigation for something I never did?”

Olyn said the court could finalise the matter in his absence.

“I ask that the court provide me with the transcripts, docket and charge sheet for this matter. Then it can proceed with sentencing. I do not have to be here on the day of sentencing. The court knows that the law states that if I am disobedient then it can continue with proceedings in my absence. I will not be here I am all right,” he said.

Mamosebo made an order for Olyn to be supplied with the requested documents and postponed the matter.

The incident, which happened on October 31, 2017, saw Olyn going on a shooting rampage after complaining that it was too hot to work.

It emerged during earlier court hearings that Van der Weshuizen, accompanied by another employee, had gone to look for Olyn in his Ford Ranger after he had taken a long lunch break.

Olyn, who was at the time in possession of a .22 rifle, told his employer that the long break was due to the heat.

Van der Westhuizen and the other employee went back to the bakkie and Olyn followed them. He stood at the passenger side of the vehicle and first pointed the rifle at the employee and then at Van der Westhuizen, before shooting him in the left side of the head.

The charges of pointing a firearm relate to an incident where Olyn pointed a firearm at a friend of the deceased, Gerhard Maritz, who came looking for him shortly after the incident.

Maritz testified that he was supposed to meet with Van der Westhuizen and had gone to the farm when the latter failed to meet him at the Groblershoop and Niekerkshoop crossing as arranged.

The witness said that he had tried to contact Van der Westhuizen telephonically, but he did not answer the calls.

Maritz was at the time accompanied by his wife, their two-year-old child and another man. On their way to the farm they were stopped by one of Van der Westhuizen’s employees who told them about the shooting.

They drove to the farm where they found Olyn, who appeared to be hiding something behind his back.

When he pointed the rifle at Maritz, the latter drove away, shouting at his wife, child and the other occupant of the vehicle to get down. Olyn followed them until they got to the main road.