Gri­qua­town trial post­poned af­ter de­fence team fired

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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.

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