/ 11 August 2008

Court orders Waterkloof Four to report to jail

The Waterkloof Four have reached the end of the road and will have to start serving their 12-year prison sentences on Monday.

Pretoria High Court Judges Willie Seriti and Piet Ebersohn on Monday morning turned down an urgent application by one of the accused, Christoff Becker, for the extension of his bail pending an urgent application to the Constitutional Court.

The other four have so far not launched any application to extend their bail.

Becker claimed the senior advocate who represented him had made ”negligent mistakes” during his trial in the Pretoria Regional Court, and that his right to adequate legal representation as well as to a fair trial had been compromised.

His counsel, Harry Pretorius, argued that the state would not be prejudiced if Becker’s bail was extended for a short period.

Judge Seriti however pointed out that the community would be affected, as they expected people who had been sentenced to start serving their terms.

Pretorius said it would have ”disastrous consequences for a youngster of his age” to have to go to jail and start serving a sentence that may well be set aside by the Constitutional Court.

The four had already been served with notices to report to the clerk of the court to start serving their sentences, but had not done so yet.

Christoff Becker, Frikkie du Preez, Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in January last year for murdering an unknown man and assaulting another in a park in 2001.

All four maintained their innocence throughout their lengthy trial and unsuccessful high court appeal that followed.

The Supreme Court of Appeal last week also turned down their appeal against their convictions and sentences. – Sapa