One of the men accused of murdering farm manager Brendin Horner, who was released on bail in October, is back behind bars after he was rearrested and charged with his one co-accused in a separate case of stock theft.
Minister of Police Bheki Cele revealed on Thursday during a rural safety imbizo in Bethlehem, Free State, that Sekola Matlaletsa only spent a weekend out of custody after posting bail before being rearrested.
Matlaletsa was released on bail on 23 October after the Senekal Magistrate’s Court found that the State did not have a strong case against him and that he would not interfere with witnesses of the investigation.
Bail was set at R5 000.
On 26 October, Matlaletsa was rearrested and charged with stock theft alongside his murder co-accused, Sekwetje Mahlamba, who was denied bail for the case of Horner.
News24 previously reported that Mahlamba and Matlaletsa would soon be charged with stock theft in a case unrelated to the Horner murder case.
It was also reported that Mahlamba is currently charged in a stock theft matter and is scheduled to appear in court for that case in February 2021. He was out on bail in that case at the time Horner was killed.
Matlaletsa has a longer rap sheet that includes a previous stock theft conviction.
According to an SAP 69 report, Matlaletsa was convicted of:
Housebreaking in 1998, for which he was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment; burglary in 1999, for which he was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment; stock theft in 2010, for which he was sentenced to six months in prison, wholly suspended; and trespassing in 2011, for which he had to pay a R50 admission of guilt fine.
However, during the bail application, he went on record to say he was convicted of:
stock theft in 1986, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison; stock theft in 1994, for which he was sentenced to four months in prison; andillegally buying a pig in 2000, for which he was not sentenced to imprisonment.
When handing down judgment, magistrate Deon van Rooyen said he would be failing in his duty as a judicial officer if he kept Matlaletsa in custody because his release might cause a disturbance to public order or undermine peace and security.
“To keep him in custody under these circumstances would be nothing more but a form of anticipatory punishing which our courts have warned against,” Van Rooyen added.
“I am accordingly of the view that applicant two [Matlaletsa] has succeeded on a balance of probabilities that exceptional circumstances exist which justify the release of applicant two on bail.”
As for Mahlamba, Van Rooyen found a prima facie case had been made against him.
The court found that despite no direct evidence linking him to the crime, certain facts pointed to his alleged involvement in it.
Without pronouncing on Mahlamba’s guilt, Van Rooyen accessed the prima facie evidence heard by the court, which included:
Mahlamba being seen during the early hours of the morning on 2 October, coming from the direction of where Horner was killed. The testimony from his girlfriend that he was not in bed when she woke up during the night in question and only returned the following morning.
The bloodstained clothes found at Mahlamba’s house when he was arrested. The two independent witnesses who allegedly heard Mahlamba boasting about assaulting a white man at a farm.
The case has been postponed to 1 December for further investigations.