Lawyer for murder-accused Kilian claims magistrate made 15 errors in bail hearing

Murder accused Zane Kilian is not the innocent debt collector that his defence claims, the Western Cape high court heard on Tuesday during the accused’s urgent bail appeal. 

Kilian, a former rugby player from Gauteng, was the first suspect arrested days after the murder of top Western Cape anti-gang unit member Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, who was shot on 18 September 2020 outside his home in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town. 

Since Kilian’s arrest, two more suspects — the alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack and Ricardo Morgan — have also been charged in connection with the murder.  

Kilian was initially charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and the unlawful interception of communications. Additional charges, spurred by a Hawks investigation, were later added. These included fraud and conspiracy to commit murder, which was related to the  attempted murder on 9 April 2020 of Cape Town lawyer William Booth.  

Because of the case being a scheduled six application, Kilian’s defence had to prove exceptional circumstances for his bail to be considered. His bail bid was denied in March but was then contested, which led to Tuesday’s appearance. 

Kilian’s advocate, Marius Botha, told Judge Ashley Binns-Ward that Bellville regional court magistrate Nonkosi Saba had made 15 errors during her evaluation of the available evidence used to decide bail. 

Included in these, said Botha, was that Saba based her decision solely on the evidence provided by the state, and that she had succumbed to media pressure, which had portrayed Kilian as a villain. 

Botha told the court that the evidence of the state’s only witness, former policeman Bradley Goldblatt, “should be read with caution” and questioned Goldblatt’s reliability.

Goldblatt provided the platform that Kilian used to track cellphones, referred to as pinging, to track Kinnear.  

Botha disputed Goldblatt’s argument that Kilian phoned him on the night of his arrest to ask that he be removed from the platform. It was “not probable”, said Botha, that Kilian could have made the call to Goldblatt because there were about 40 police officers at his Springs home on the night of his arrest. 

The judge responded: “Sometimes the obvious improbability in a story points to its truth.”

Three weeks before the assassination of Kinnear, Goldblatt reported to the police that the cop’s cellphone was being tracked by Kilian. He again reported a significant increase in the number of times Kinnear’s cellphone was pinged two days before the murder.

Advocate Greg Wolmarans, for the state, told the court that Kilian phoned Goldblatt two days before the murder of Kinnear requesting more pings because he had run out of his monthly amount, to which Goldblatt agreed. 

Wolmarans contended that “the magistrate adopted the correct approach in the bail application and went out of her way to provide a detailed judgment”. 

He said the judgment “reflected judicious reasoning and the proper exercise of her discretion with regard to the weight to be afforded to all the information placed before the court”. 

Responding to the argument that the state’s evidence was “weak”, Wolmarans said the appellant offered “very little” to support this claim. 

Wolmarans argued that under section 60 (11) of the Criminal Procedure Act it was the appellant who had to provide evidence to the satisfaction of a court that exceptional circumstances existed, which in the interests of justice would permit his release. 

“[The state] still maintains that [the] appellant’s case fell woefully short of persuading the court whether or not exceptional circumstances exist …” said Wolmarans. 

Botha told the court Kilian had no criminal record, was a law-abiding citizen and a debt collector who was pulled into an “unfortunate situation” by simply doing his job.

In his response, Wolmarans pointed out that Kinnear also had no debt, yet was traced by Kilian. He reiterated the detailed information Kilian had of not only Kinnear but of the deceased police officer’s wife, Nicolette. That information included photos, names, addresses and details about a bond.

Wolmarans concluded that “the magistrate was correct in refusing [the] appellants’ bail application” and requested that the court “dismiss the appeal accordingly”.
Judgment is due to be handed down on 24 May, the same day Kilian and his co-accused will appear in the Blue Downs regional court on multiple other charges. 

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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