The man accused of killing forensic auditor Lawrence Moepi was denied bail in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Monday.
"The application for bail is declined," Magistrate Piet du Plessis said, speaking to Remember Siphoro. "Effectively the application is based in the premise that the state has a weak case."
Du Plessis said it was not for the state to prove Siphoro was guilty but for his defence to provide exceptional circumstance for bail to be granted because he was charged with a schedule six offence.
Du Plessis said from the evidence in the case docket, Siphoro could not be linked to the crime through DNA or fingerprints, and he was also not found in possession of a firearm, ammunition, money or another item from the scene. But there was an eye witness that could place Siphoro at the scene and forensic evidence from cellphones could show he was following Moepi for a few days, Du Plessis said.
Siphoro (42) stood in the dock wearing a peach T-shirt and blue jeans, listening to the judgment. Earlier, Siphoro's lawyer Paul Leisher argued that the state's case was weak. He argued that if the case went to trial Siphoro would likely be acquitted and therefore he should be granted bail.
"The state's case is particularly weak and based upon mere suspicion," said Leisher. "While there is a suspicion there must at least be something that links the accused [Siphoro]. There is a clear motive no doubt, but the same applies for other people."
He said because of the high-profile cases Moepi investigated there could be other people with motives.
Shot outside office
Moepi was followed into the parking lot of the SizweNtsalubaGobodo offices in Houghton, Johannesburg, in October last year, allegedly by Siphoro and an accomplice in a Volkswagen Golf. He was shot as he was getting out of his car. His killers fled the scene. Prosecutor Thomas Matlou argued that the state's case was not weak or based purely on suspicion.
Matlou called the investigating officer Abraham Heyns to testify on Monday, who told the court that there was an eye witness who identified Siphoro at an identity parade as the driver of the car.
"The accused was pointed out by the witness as driving out of the premises where the deceased was shot and killed … on the day," said Heyns.
The court heard there were two different witnesses, one the security guard at the gate and another a woman who was waiting in the ground floor boardroom of the building for Moepi.
"According to a witness, a man coming from the left front passenger seat of the white Golf GTI walked up to the deceased while he was sitting in his vehicle," said Heyns. "She then heard two gunshots." According to Heyns, he reconstructed the scene and estimated that the woman was about 20m away from the shooting.
Leisher told the court on Monday that Siphoro would tell the court he was not involved in Moepi's murder. But Du Plessis said Siphoro made no attempt since then to say where he was at the time of the shooting or who he was with.
Earlier, Matlou told the court there was a problem with verifying Siphoro's address as the woman staying there said he only stayed over occasionally. But Leisher said there was no evidence to prove that Siphoro did not stay there as he was arrested at the address and his clothes were there.
Siphoro faces charges of murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. His alleged accomplice is still at large.
The case was postponed to February 18 for further investigation. – Sapa