/ 10 May 2011

Judge fumes, postpones Terre’Blanche trial to October

Judge Fumes

The judge presiding over the Eugene Terre’Blanche murder trial on Tuesday said he was “not impressed” with how the case had been handled, and postponed the matter to October.

“I must say I am not impressed with the manner in which this was handled. It resulted in time being unnecessarily wasted,” Judge John Horn said in the Ventersdorp High Court sitting in.

“I came here to hear a trial, not to hear arguments regarding postponements. This whole situation was most unsatisfactory.”

The trial of Chris Mahlangu and a minor accused of killing the AWB leader was set down for October 10 to 21.

The court further granted an order for the minor to appear in court every 30 days for an assessment on how he was doing at a place of safety. Those dates are June 8, July 8, August 5 and September 2 and 30.

Horn said Mahlangu, whose previous attorney Puna Moroko withdrew days before trial, could not be blamed for the postponement.

“If a postponement was not granted it would be prejudicial and unjust to accused one [Mahlangu] and he would not be afforded a fair trial. Mr Moroko’s withdrawing remains unexplained and one would have expected him to attend court and explain why he terminated his service.”

Moroko, who had not formally withdrawn, had also not consulted with his client and instead spent time giving press statements, the court heard.

Fair trial
“Where the legal representative is at fault or withdraws, the accused is afforded a postponement to have sufficient time and opportunity to prepare for trial,” Horn said.

Legal Aid attorney advocate Khomotso Tlouane took over from him last Thursday. He said he needed time to track down witnesses crucial to his defence, and examine DNA and forensic evidence, which he said Moroko had failed to do.

Tlouane said there was a real possibility both defence teams could combine efforts to form a common front, but added that they had not yet discussed this.

Horn apologised to the Terre’Blanche family and journalists for yet another postponement. He said the case had attracted media attention locally and abroad, and dealt with several allegations, including a political motive.

“Whether the killing had political connotations is doubtful. The facts according to the statements in the charge sheet show no proof that it was politically motivated.

“Nevertheless there is no doubt that the case remains high-profile.”

According to the charge sheet Mahlangu and his 16-year-old co-accused broke into Terre’Blanche’s farmhouse outside Ventersdorp in April last year, robbed and “deliberately killed” him.

The two worked for him at the time. There were claims the killing was sparked by a wage dispute. They are also accused of attempting to steal Terre’Blanche’s car. – Sapa