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Triple murder accused to apply for bail

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Four of the accused, who applied for assistance from Legal Aid South Africa, have abandoned their right to apply for bail.

Community members stood outside the court building, calling for an end to farm murders. Pictures: Soraya Crowie

ONE OF the accused standing trial for the triple murder of the Brand family, in Magogong near Hartswater on July 26, will be applying for bail later this month.

The five accused, Khomotso Mpumlwana, 43, Tshepo Visagie, 36, Tshepo Seolesang, 20, Tshepaone Melato, 19, and Realeboga Manyedi, 18, appeared before the Hartswater Regional Court on Thursday on charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Four of the accused, who applied for assistance from Legal Aid South Africa, have abandoned their right to apply for bail.

Mpumlwana appointed Albert Buthelezi as her legal representative and will make a formal application for bail on August 27.

All the accused will remain in custody until their next court appearance.

There was a strong police presence inside the courtroom yesterday, where all available seats were occupied, while armoured police vehicles were visible in the town.

A group of community members stood outside the court building, calling for an end to farm murders.

Danie Brand, 83, his wife Breggie, 73, and their daughter Elzabie, 54, were abducted from their smallholding in Magogong near Hartswater on July 26.

Their bodies were found in the veld near Takaneng Village near Taung on July 28 following a massive search.

The family’s Nissan Micra had been found abandoned in Majaneng Village on July 27.

The accused were arrested after they were stopped by the police in the Pudimoe district while travelling in a grey Mazda CX5 that also belonged to the Brands.

After the court proceedings on Thursday, relatives of the accused called for their family members to be released and that the charges be dropped as they believed that they were innocent of the crimes.

Community members were meanwhile also baying for the blood of an accused who also appeared in the Hartswater Regional Court yesterday on charges relating to the murder of his girlfriend.

DA spokesperson on agriculture, land reform and rural development, Annette Steyn, said the increase in farm attacks and murders required urgent attention from government.

“The DA will keep attending the court cases to ensure that justice is served,” said Steyn.

The chairperson of the Vaalharts District Agricultural Union, Stefan Smith, said about 100 vehicles drove past the court building yesterday in a show of support for the victims’ family.

“Everyone remained in their cars to observe the Covid-19 regulations. We handed over a petition that was signed by 1 500 people in the Northern Cape, North West and the Free State, objecting to farm murders and calling for the accused to be dealt the harshest sentence if found guilty of the crimes. The accused must not be granted bail or be given the option of early parole,” said Smith.

He said that they would continue to attend the court proceedings to highlight the seriousness of the crimes committed.

“Agricultural unions have increased security and support to farms as the resources of the police are limited,” added Smith.