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Senekal businessman accused of violent protest appeals bail denial

14 October 2020 - 18:05 By iavan pijoos
Andre Pienaar was denied bail in the Senekal magistrate's court on Tuesday. He appealed the ruling in the high court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Andre Pienaar was denied bail in the Senekal magistrate's court on Tuesday. He appealed the ruling in the high court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Image: Alon Skuy

Lawyers for Senekal businessman Andre Pienaar have filed a notice of appeal to have their client released on bail.

The application was filed in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

Pienaar appeared in court in Senekal on Wednesday for a bail application after he was arrested for his role in a violent protest a week ago. He was denied bail.

In the filed notice, seen by TimesLIVE, the lawyers argue that the court erred in making pronouncements on the merits of the matter, essentially concluding that Pienaar had assaulted a police officer.

“This gives the impression that the denial of bail is used as a form of anticipatory punishment,” the application notes.

Pastors from various denominations gathered to pray for an easing of brewing racial tension and farm attacks in Senekal, Free State. There have been talks of protests on October 16 2020 when the men accused of killing local farmer Brendin Horner are back in court.

The notice further argued that the court penalised Pienaar for having an underlying medical condition — he is bipolar — and made “unsubstantiated inferences that no bail condition can prevent him from committing further offences or disturb the public peace or jeopardise the criminal justice system”.

Pienaar has been charged for incitement to commit violence, public violence and attempted murder.

Providing reasons for refusing bail, magistrate Buti Mlangeni said Pienaar told the court earlier that he had close ties with the community, but this was the same community he allegedly attacked.

Mlangeni said Pienaar was accused of attacking a female police officer who was executing her duty. This showed he doesn’t hesitate to use violence against anyone who comes in his way. He said there was a risk Pienaar would interfere with the police investigation.

Police minister Bheki Cele visited the family of murdered farmer Brendin Horner in Paul Roux, Free State, to pay his respects on October 13 2020. He spent the afternoon at Meets Agricultural Union hall talking to farm workers on their grievances about crime in the area.

Mlangeni said the personal details of potential witnesses were easily accessible through court documents. In his short time in custody, Pienaar was able to identify witnesses who could potentially exonerate him, Mlangeni said.

“This was a deliberate attempt to jeopardise a criminal investigation.”

Mlangeni said Pienaar further allegedly tried to undermine the rule of law by damaging court property and holding cells, which could have led to the escape of awaiting-trial prisoners. This potentially could have caused serious harm to the public.

Regarding the charges he faces, Mlangeni said Pienaar had no respect for law and order and it was therefore not in the interests of justice to release him on bail.

The lawyers argued that the court did not consider, or alternatively only “paid lip service” to, the consideration of suitable bail conditions.