Safety fears see magistrate recused from farmers' ‘killing' case in Coligny

28 April 2017 - 15:08 By Shenaaz Jamal
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A magistrate fearing for his safety has recused himself from the case of two men accused of killing a 12-year-old boy‚ after which a North West town reacted with violent protests.

In Coligny and nearby Lichtenberg shops were torched and buildings burnt after the boy’s death.

It is alleged that last week the boy fell off a moving vehicle driven by a farmer‚ but residents believe that he was assaulted.

Police arrested at least 17 protesters‚ who are also expected to appear in court.

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The two farmers‚ who cannot be named as they are yet to appear in an identity parade‚ appeared in the Coligny Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

The case was postponed to May 9 for a formal bail application after presiding magistrate Mattheus van Loggerenberg recused himself‚ citing safety concerns for his family and a concern about neutrality.

State prosecutor Nkhetheni Mudau asked that the case be postponed so that an identity parade can be held and for the post mortem results to be obtained.

Van Loggerenberg said it would not be in the interests of justice for him to preside over the case he referred to as "the tragic death of a young boy". "We all know the history of this matter .... For justice to be done‚ neutrality is the wise road to follow‚" he said.

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The court did not allow photographs showing the faces of the accused as this could‚ at this stage‚ compromise the case.

Residents were not allowed into the small courtroom.

A crowd outside the court‚ watched by a large contingent of police‚ waved placards saying: "No bail for farmers" and "No bail for boers."

Speaking outside the court‚ people from the area said the crime had infuriated them. "They (white people) have been killing us since 1976 and still call us monkeys" said Sunnyboy Gomone.

Black residents said they would demand that the state oppose bail for the two farmers. Katleho Bokatsu said protesting residents wanted to ensure equality before the courts and were concerned the farmers would be treated leniently.

Another resident‚ Ouma Tsele‚ said: "We are here to oppose bail and there are farmers blocking community members at the entrance of Tlhabologang location."

Tsele added that the relationship between the farmers and black residents was very tense.