Griquatown trial postponed after defence team fired
on Good Friday last year.
He is also standing trial for raping Marthella, as well as defeating the ends of justice.
In the latest twist, Northern Cape High Court Judge President Frans Kgomo “reluctantly” granted a postponement, although he said he was “disturbed” at the “unacceptably late” application made on Thursday.
This came after advocates Willem Coetzee and Sharon Erasmus, along with instructing attorney Stoffel de Jager, officially stepped down from the case.
Their legal services were terminated on Tuesday due to “irreconcilable differences” that arose with the accused’s guardian, Bennie Heckroodt.
According to Riaan Bode, the accused’s new defence attorney, there was a “serious breach of trust” that emerged ahead of the scheduled judgment, which was to be delivered on Thursday.
The new defence team has been given three months to prepare, with the case postponed to March 18. It is set down to run until March 28.
An advocate still needs to be appointed to represent the accused, while possible witnesses must be approached to testify.
State advocate Hannes Cloete said no reasons were provided for the late application to postpone the case.
“The guardian (Heckroodt) indicated that he was satisfied with his legal representation up until a few hours before final arguments were presented. No reasons were provided as to how the breach in trust had resulted in the postponement,” Cloete said.
He regarded the request for a postponement as a “cynical attempt to manipulate the legal process”.
Judge Kgomo pointed out that the postponement application, at the 11th hour, was “highly undesirable and unacceptable”. But he believed that it should be granted in the interests of a fair trial.
Family members of the dead said that while they had been hoping for a decision before Christmas, they understood the need to postpone the matter and grant the accused a reasonable opportunity.