No acquittal for youth in petrol murder trial

The Cape High Court on Tuesday dismissed an application for the acquittal of a 13-year-old youth who allegedly purchased petrol with which a woman was doused and set alight during an argument about a missing cellphone.

The boy was in the dock before Judge Patricia Goliath, together with co-accused Ashwin Hammers (20), Myron Daniels (28) and Ashley Lategan (24).

The four are alleged to have set alight their friend, Monique Martin, at a drug den in the Strand, near Cape Town, in October last year. The alleged incident happened on a Friday night, after the five, including Martin, had together smoked a mixture of the drugs tik and Mandrax, the latter also known among drug abusers as “buttons”.

The missing cellphone belonged to Daniels, who had fallen asleep at the den from the affects of the drug mixture, while the others had continued to smoke it.

Martin had been seen with the cellphone and, when it went missing, was confronted about it.

When she failed to produce it, she was kicked, and in the course of the attack the boy was sent by Daniels to get a container of petrol at a nearby petrol station. On his return, the woman was doused and set alight.

The application for the youth’s acquittal was brought by his defence counsel, Michael Garces, who contended that the boy had fetched the petrol as he was afraid to refuse Daniels’s request.
Because the youth had merely fetched the petrol and had not assisted in dousing the woman or setting her alight, he had no case to meet, Garces said.

Prosecutor Piet Steyn countered that the state’s case against the youth was, in fact, overwhelming, and that he needed to explain to the court why he had fetched the petrol in the first instance.

He said there could be no doubt that Martin had died from severe burns, and had the youth not fetched the petrol, this would not have happened.

Steyn added: “If he says he was under threat, he has to go into the witness stand and explain this under oath.”

Goliath said she would give full reasons for dismissing the acquittal application when she delivered judgement in the case itself.

The hearing continues.—Sapa

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