Farmers must have guns to protect themselves, lawyer tells court
This was stated by defence attorney Jeff Moyo at the Brits Magistrate's Court on Wednesday while arguing for bail for his client‚ murder accused Matthew Benson. Benson faces a charge of murder and attempted murder linked to the disappearance of Tebogo Ndlovu who was allegedly shot by Benson while stealing oranges at the accused's parents’ farm on August 2.
Ndlovu was with two friends at the time and they have pointed Benson out as the shooter.
"Farmers need to protect themselves. They need these guns because every day farmers are being killed in the farms. I am not saying it was right for somebody‚ as per [a] witness version‚ with a rifle to shoot at these three boys. I am saying it was right for him (Benson) to carry a pellet gun to threaten whoever comes into his farm to cause danger either to his property‚ family or himself‚" said Moyo.
Twenty-four-year-old Benson was arrested on August 16 following an intensive investigation.
The accused has pleaded not guilty to the charges and told police that he never fired a shot on the day in question.
But the State believes it has a strong case against him after a neighbouring farmer informed police that he was called by Benson saying he spotted criminals in their yard.
Upon arrival‚ the neighbouring farmer told police that he found Benson in possession of a 9mm pistol.
During investigation four firearms belonging to Benson's father were taken for ballistic testing and from that collection‚ a 9mm was linked to three cartridges found at the farm. The accused’s attorney said Benson was in possession of a pellet gun similar to a 9mm. The attorney stated that a pellet gun could not cause severe injuries.
Blood stains were also found at the Mooinooi farm and laboratory results matched the blood with that of Ndlovu's mother.
Prosecutor Cassius Mono opposed Benson's bail application‚ indicating that the accused was a flight risk‚ he might interfere with witnesses and that his release might fuel public outrage.
Magistrate Jethro Masime said the court needed time to deliberate on the arguments presented and would deliver judgment on the bail application on September 29.
The accused will remain at the Mooinooi police station until his next appearance.
The court gallery was once again overflowing. Some came to support the Ndlovu family while others came to support Benson who placed a small Bible in front of him during arguments.
Those backing Benson believe Ndlovu is alive and has been spotted in Mozambique.
A group of farmers are planning to raise a monetary reward for information that might lead to Ndlovu's whereabouts.
Investigating officer Isaac Tlhapi poured cold water on suspicions that Ndlovu might be in Mozambique‚ saying police have followed up on all provided information but have not found anything concrete.
Tlhapi mentioned that more arrests would be made in this case because there was evidence indicating that the accused had assistance.