/ 14 June 2005

Young killers spend lunch hour behind bars

Four white Waterkloof youths are spending the lunch hour behind bars after being convicted in the Pretoria Regional Court on Tuesday of murdering a black man and assaulting another in December 2001.

The court will resume at 2pm to decide whether or not Christoff Becker (19) and Frikkie du Preez, Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt (all 18) should be freed on bail pending sentencing which would be done in the Pretoria High Court.

They face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment for committing a murder with common purpose.

Magistrate Len Kotze found the four guilty of beating, kicking and stabbing an unidentified man in a park in Moreleta Park in the early morning hours of December 2, 2001, and leaving him for dead.

He found that a body later discovered in the park by police was the same man the four had assaulted. They were consequently found guilty of murder.

Kotze convicted Du Preez of assaulting another black man in Constantia Park earlier that night and the other three of assaulting the same man with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Johann Kruger told the magistrate the law determined that the four be held in custody pending sentencing, unless they could prove this would not serve the interest of justice.

Should he decide to grant them bail, the amount should be high and strict conditions should be laid down.

Kotze earlier dismissed the evidence given by Becker as lies. He was the only one of the accused called to testify.

The magistrate referred to Becker’s ”astounding arrogance” as a witness and said he was clearly hiding things that could be incriminating.

The four denied assaulting an unidentified black man in Constantia Park in Pretoria in December 2001. They also denied beating another black man to death later that night in a park in the nearby Moreleta Park suburb.

They admitted beating a man, whom they said they believed to be a burglar, after he attacked them as they tried to apprehend him.

But the body found in the park later was not that of the man they assaulted, the four claimed. – Sapa