The accused is facing two counts of murder, a further count of attempted murder and another count of arson
THE KAGISHO man facing charges of murder after allegedly setting fire to a shanty in which his 21-year-old wife, Mpho Jackson, and two young children were sleeping, will remain in custody until the finalisation of his trial.
Mpho, as well as her cousin’s four-year-old child, died as a result of the blaze.
Tshepo Jackson’s bail application was yesterday concluded in the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court, where Magistrate Benjamin September also made a ruling that the accused would be facing a Schedule 6 offence of premeditated murder.
September said that Jackson’s attorney’s argument that the matter was not premeditated did not go into the merits of the case.
“The accused is facing two counts of murder, a further count of attempted murder and another count of arson. The accused submitted a statement in support of his bail application. The basis of his argument, through his statement, was that the State has a weak case against him and that he intends to plead not guilty to the charges against him. The accused was not exposed to cross-examination.
“There are witness statements saying that they saw the accused near the scene on the night of the incident. There is also a witness statement saying that the accused questioned who had dropped off the deceased. The mother of the deceased said she spoke to her daughter before her death and the latter had told her that the accused had communicated with her via WhatsApp while she also received a phone call from him. During the telephone conversation the accused said ‘if he cannot have the deceased, then no one will’. The court’s view is that this can definitely be seen as the final nail in determining whether the matter was premeditated,” said September.
September added that Jackson also failed to prove whether it would be in the interests of justice for him to be granted bail.
“Looking at what is before me, this is an incident where a woman and two children were burnt in a room and two eventually died. This is nothing but a vicious crime. What is particularly vicious is the fact that one small child died and another one sustained burn injuries when they were trapped in the fire. One cannot ignore the seriousness of the offence.
“Looking at the statement of the accused, I do not see anything exceptional. I do not see why the accused should get any exceptional treatment. The accused is unemployed at this stage. The advocate of the accused did not deal with what impact incarceration would have on the accused.
“I am of the view, because the offence is a Schedule 6 offence, it was premeditated and the accused needed to show exceptional circumstances as to why he should be granted bail. There are no exceptional circumstances and granting the accused bail will not only be reckless but also irresponsible.”
September added that the State should conclude the matter speedily.
“The offence of premeditated murder carries a life sentence. The court cannot ignore that the accused will face a lengthy term of imprisonment if convicted. There are currently still investigations to be concluded and some of these investigations can take some time. The State and the investigating officer, however, need to ensure that these matters are solved swiftly.”
The matter was postponed to November.
Jackson’s wife, Mpho, was inside the shanty with the couple’s 18-month-old son and her cousin’s four-year-old son, Jayden Scheepers, at the time of the incident on August 25 this year.
Mpho died on the day of the incident and Scheepers died in Kimberley Hospital a week later. The 18-month-old boy sustained burn injuries to his leg, hands and forehead.