News / South Africa

Makhosandile Zulu
2 minute read
23 Oct 2018
4:36 pm

Bail application of three Heather Peterson murder accused postponed

Makhosandile Zulu

The bail application was postponed to November 14 and the identity parade of accused number three is still pending.

Residents of Westbury in Johannesburg protest outside the Sophiatown police station. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse residents. The death of a woman and the wounding of her 10-year-old child sparked the community uproar. Picture: Itumeleng English / African News Agency (ANA)

The bail application of the three accused of murdering Heather Peterson, whose death led to violent and destructive community protests in Westbury recently, was remanded up until November 14.

An identity parade for accused number three is still pending.

The presiding officer in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court today said the three accused, aged 21, 18 and 32, will remain in custody pending the finalisation of their bail application.

The matter was postponed last Wednesday and an identity parade of the accused was set for Saturday, October 17.

However, only the identity parades of accused number one and two were conducted successfully at the weekend, hence the presiding officer ruled it must be conducted for accused number three on Saturday, October 27.

After the state had raised concern about the safety of the witnesses, the magistrate stated that the family of accused number three should not be present at the venue of the identity parade on Saturday to ensure the safety of witnesses.

“Unless they are there to report other matters, there’s no need for them to be there,” the magistrate instructed the defence for accused number three.

The defence for accused number three told the court they would ensure that this is complied with, clarifying that at the past weekend, the family of accused number three had been at the police station where the identity parade was held only before and after the parade.

The magistrate had ordered that the public gallery in court be cleared because investigations in the matter are “at a sensitive stage”. Only one representative of the Peterson family remained in court.

Furthermore, accused number three had sought new legal representation. However, the previous legal representative for the accused was not present at court during today’s proceedings and so could not officially withdraw from the matter.

“She must’ve known better and be here. This will further delay everything,” the magistrate said.

The magistrate further barred the media from publishing the identities of the accused pending the review of an application to do so.

Violent and destructive protests sparked by the killing of Peterson broke out in Westbury recently, which led to Police Minister Bheki Cele’s intervention.

The Westbury community had raised concerns about the high prevalence of drugs, gang-related violence, and corrupt police officers who are allegedly bribed to turn a blind eye to criminal activity.

Cele’s intervention led to the deployment of a tactical response team (TRT) dedicated to the Westbury policing precinct.

SAPS Gauteng spokesperson, Captain Mavela Masondo said on Thursday last week that since the deployment of the TRT, several suspects have been arrested for various crimes at Westbury.

“Joint intelligence-driven operations are conducted and more than 20 suspects have been arrested for crimes ranging from dealing in drugs, possession of drugs, murder, housebreaking and dealing in liquor with a valid permit,” Captain Masondo said last week.

Peterson was laid to rest earlier this month.

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