Home News New charge added in Els attack case

New charge added in Els attack case

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The State indicated that it had evidence that accused one (Rankali) and accused three (Ramolo) were Lesotho nationals and were in the country illegally

BAIL APPLICATION: Morapedi Rankali, Motlalentwe Qhautse and Thuso Ramolo appeared in the Kimberley Magistrates Court for a formal bail application yesterday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A FOURTH charge, of contravening the Immigration Act, has been added to the three existing charges against the three men accused of attacking prominent Kimberley businessman Piet Els and his partner on Els’ farm.

The three accused – Morapedi Rankali, Motlalentwe Qhautse and Thuso Ramolo – appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court yesterday after they were arrested and charged with housebreaking, robbery and rape following an incident that took place on January 24.

Els and his partner were viciously attacked and tortured in the early hours of that morning by four men who forced their way into the bedroom of Els’ farmhouse.

The men fled the scene with firearms, jewellery, cash and cellphones in Els’ white Mercedes Benz, which was later that day found abandoned next to the R31 road to Barkly West.

During the accused’s formal bail application yesterday, the State indicated that it had evidence that accused one (Rankali) and accused three (Ramolo) were Lesotho nationals and were in the country illegally.

The status of Qhautse is, however, unknown, as he refused to co-operate with the police or give any details to officials, but there are allegations that he is also a Lesotho national.

Rankali took the witness stand yesterday to give testimony in his bail application and pleaded not guilty to the charges of housebreaking, rape and robbery against him and guilty to a charge of contravening the Immigration Act.

He told the court that he was arrested after police came looking for a man who stayed in the same yard as him in Galeshewe.

“I was arrested on January 29 after the police came to my place asking for Karabo, a gun and a ring. Karabo and I were both staying in the yard, which had four shanties in it. Both of us were staying in our own shanty.

“I told the police that Karabo had told me that he was going to Lesotho. The officer looked around in my shanty and found a ring. They also realised that Karabo and I share a surname, as we are cousins. They, however, did not give any reasons about why they arrested me. All I know is that they came looking for Karabo,” Rankali said.

He added that although the ring was found in his possession, Karabo had asked him to hold onto the ring for him.

“I was initially staying with Karabo in Number Two, when I was unemployed. I later found employment and moved to Nxumalo Street in Galeshewe. Karabo later also moved to the same address but we stayed in separate shanties. Karabo had a lot of assets and I kept some things in my room. The ring was found on me as Karabo had asked me to keep it for him. When the police arrived, he had already left for Lesotho.”

Rankali told the court that if he was granted bail he would only be able to afford an amount of R200 as he was currently unemployed and his financial state was dire.

“I was doing piece jobs but if I am granted bail I am sure my family will be able to scrape together R200 for bail. I also need to get bail as my father is the only breadwinner back in Lesotho. I used to assist my father and help ease the financial burden by sending money back home. I also have a four-year-old daughter who is also living in Lesotho with her mother who I have to take care of,” he said.

Rankali told the court that he did not know the complainant in the matter and that he will not avoid his trial or interfere in the investigation.

The case was postponed for further cross-examination of Rankali.

All three accused remain in custody.