16th October 2020
Two suspects, Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba, 32, and Sekola Piet Matlatsetsa, 44, appeared at the Senekal Magistrate's Court for the murder of Brendin Horner, 21, a farmer in the Paul Roux district of the Free State.
In the early hours of the day, the small town of Senekal was flooded with supporters seeking justice for the slain farmer. Supporters were made up mostly of EFF members, who appeared in the thousands, ANC, and other political party supporters also made an appearance.
Several farmer groups also made an appearance outside of the court.
A heavy police presence was observed in the town, with water cannons and a patrolling helicopter ensuring that order was maintained.
After all attendees of the hearing had settled, most notable included Police Minister Bheki Cele, the court heard the applications made by Mahlamba and Matlatsetsa.
The court cross-examined Mahlamba to determine what assets he had and whether he would be paying the bail amount himself.
After establishing that his only assets were made up of a sound system, Mahlamba said his bail would be paid by his pensioner father.
The prosecution team maintained a stance that would have Mahlamba remain behind bars saying that he could have access to the witnesses, he could meddle with the case, and possibly flee if he were to be released on bail.
The State then asked Mahlamba if police recovered his bloodied trousers from the deep freezer from his house. He denied this and claimed that there was no deep freezer in the house.
Upon admission that the blood-stained clothing belonged to him, Mahlamba told the court that bloodstains found on his pants had come from an animal slaughtered in September. He said he had been at a local event where he helped with the slaughtering of an animal.
When asked how the blood had landed on his pants, Mahlamba told the court his cellphone rang, and he reached for his pocket with his bloodied hands.
He also said he had given the police permission to search his house, proving that he had nothing to hide, going as far as saying he had had no problems with the police taking his clothing for DNA testing.
The State had a witness that claims to have heard Mahlamba boasting about “assaulting a white man on a farm,” while at a tavern on 2 October in the late afternoon, and State alleges that Matlaletsa bragged about assaulting a white man on a farm to a witness, who had deposed an affidavit, and that enough detail was given that lead police to both accused.
The State also alleges that Mahlamba’s girlfriend refutes his assertion that he was with her the night that Horner was killed. She stated under oath that he did not spend the entire evening with her on 1 October.
The 21-year-old girlfriend of Mahlamba has proclaimed his innocence, alleging she had a solid alibi for where he was on the night farm manager Brendin Horner was murdered.
When Maleqhoa Sithole spoke to TimesLIVE on Thursday, ahead of the trial, she said she was with him on the night that he was alleged to have murdered Horner along with co-accused Sekola Piet Matlaletsa.
Matlaletsa, meanwhile, says he will be pleading not guilty and will remain silent as so far as the merits of the case are concerned, and further submitted that he is unemployed and living off a disability grant.
The State established that Matlaletsa has two previous convictions for stock theft and one for illegally buying a pig, and through an affidavit, he told the court that he has no pending cases against him.
The State said that it does not intend to lead Viva Voce evidence and will be doing so by way of physical evidence, and because of this, they have asked for a short intermission until 15:00.