/ 10 September 2008

Lawyer for Waterkloof four leader withdraws

The new lawyer for Christoff Becker, one of the Waterkloof Four who were convicted of murdering a homeless man, has withdrawn from the case for ”ethical reasons”, Beeld newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Lawyer Harry Pretorius, who was appointed after Becker fired his previous legal team, told the newspaper that his decision to withdraw from the case was based ”purely on ethical norms and rules”.

Pretorius had lodged an appeal on behalf of Becker, who is currently serving a 12-year prison term, with the Constitutional Court.

The three other members of the gang have also filed an appeal, but they never changed lawyers as Becker did.

”I had a meeting with Christoff’s family on Friday and it became clear to me that, for ethical reasons, I could no longer represent Christoff. If I went ahead to represent him, it could create a very serious integrity crisis at a later stage if the court were to ask me
directly why I did not withdraw,” said Pretorius.

He did not want to elaborate on the ”ethical reasons”, saying only that there were ”conflicting views” between him and the Beckers.

Christoff’s mother, Mariette Becker, told the newspaper that Pretorius’ services had been ended because they could no longer afford him, but Pretorius denied that.

Becker, Frikkie du Preez (23), Gert van Schalkwyk (22), and Reinach Tiedt (22) were found guilty in June 2005 of attacking and killing an unidentified man in Moreleta Park and attacking another unidentified man on the same evening in Constantia in December 2001.

The four were aged 15 and 16 at the time of the murder and assaults. After the conviction, Becker fired his lawyer, saying he did not follow his instructions.

The Constitutional Court will still consider Becker’s appeal because the papers have already been filed, even though Pretorius has withdrawn from the case. – Sapa