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Brendin Horner murder suspects out of jail

The two suspects who have been accused of murdering Free State farm manager, Brendin Horner, in October 2020 were both released on bail in the Senekal magistrates court on Tuesday.

This was after evidence emerged that they could not be linked to the murder through DNA analysis.

Sekwetje Mahlamba, 32, and Sekola Matlaletsa, 44, appeared in court to apply for bail based on these and other new facts that the state has now revealed. The two were arrested for the murder of the 21-year-old farm manager in October last year.

Horner’s body was found tied to a pole by his neck just meters from the gate to the house where he lived with his girlfriend. His attackers had  brutally beaten, tortured and strangled him.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phaladi Shuping told News24 the court accepted the new facts, which included:

* “The DNA results are available and do not link the accused to the commission of the crime” and

  • “It was initially reported that Horner was killed in the early hours of 2 October, but now the State said he was murdered between 19:00 and 20:00 on 1 October.”

“DNA samples taken from Horner’s bakkie could also not be linked to the two men accused of murdering him on a farm in Paul Roux,” News 24 reported.

It was earlier reported by police that Horner was attacked on DeRots Farm on Friday 2 October 2020, at about 06:30 in Paul Roux, in the Free State.

Senekal detectives later arrested the two suspects at Fateng tse Ntho in Paul Roux. Police recovered blood-stained clothes and shoes which were taken in for forensic tests.

Horner’s murder led to violent protests by farmers at the time. A police vehicle was overturned during one of the demonstrations in Senekal when the suspects originally appeared in court last year.

The case has been postponed to 23 August for a pre-trial hearing in the high court.

Brendin Horner murder case postponed to March

The case against two men accused of killing 21-year-old Senekal farm manager Brendin Horner was postponed until the end of March to allow further investigations to take place, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

This follows the brief appearance of Sekwetje Mahlamba, 32, and Sekola Matlaletsa, 44, at the Senekal magistrate’s court on Friday.

Horner was murdered in Paul Roux, in the Free State, last year. His body was found tied to a pole on the farm. His killing caused public outrage and unrest in the small town.

Mahlamba was previously denied bail by magistrate Deon van Rooyen. He later brought an application against this decision in the Bloemfontein high court but this was also dismissed.

Matlaletsa was granted bail of R5,000 but was rearrested on separate charges of stock theft, two counts of rape and two counts of kidnapping, said NPA regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.

His bail application in the stock theft case was dismissed and he abandoned his bail application on the charges of rape and kidnapping, the NPA said.

The pair were remanded in custody until their next court appearance on March 30.

Suspects in Brendin Horner murder case expected back in court today

The men accused of murdering Free State farmer Brendin Horner are expected back in the Senekal Magistrates Court on Friday.

Sekwetja Mahlamba and Sekola Matlaletsa are accused of killing the 21-year-old farm manager in Paul Roux last year.  Matlaletsa is currently out on bail, while Mahlamba remains behind bars.

The last time this case was in court, the State asked for a postponement in order to secure DNA results from the scene of the crime.

After Horner was murdered, police searched the homes of Mahlamba and Matlaletsa. Inside Mahlamba’s freezer, they found a pair of bloody jeans. When he was asked about them, he said that he’d help slaughter a cow at a neighbour’s house.

Forensic tests are being run to determine whether the blood on the jeans matches Horner’s blood.

Once the DNA issue is clarified, the matter will be moved to the Bloemfontein High Court.

Senekal: Brendin Horner murder accused back in the dock

The two men who have been charged with the brutal murder of 21-year old farm manager, Brendin Horner on a farm outside the sleepy town of Senekal, quietly return to the dock today Tuesday 1 December.

The 32-year old Sekwetje Mahlamba and 44-year old Sekola Matlaletsa are alleged to have stabbed and strangled Horner to death in early October, in what the state believes is a stock theft incident gone wrong.

While it has been widely reported that Matlaletsa was released out on R 5000 bail on 22 October, Free State Police Commissioner, Baile Motswenyane, revealed in her address at the Ministerial Rural Safety Imbizo in Bethlehem in mid-November, that Matlaletsa was in fact back in cuffs for a stock theft charge unrelated to the farm manager’s murder. Motswenyane did not elaborate on the details of that case during her address.

However, Free State police spokesperson, Thandi Mbambo, has confirmed that the re-arrest occurred shortly after bail was granted for the older accused. This means both men are still in police custody at this stage.

It is anticipated that more details regarding the separate stock theft incident will come to light during the court appearance.

According to Motswenyane during the profiling of the suspects in the Horner murder, it was determined they had been linked to seven other stock theft cases. Her office, in collaboration with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the Free State, will be probing those cases in the hopes of having them placed back on the court rolls. This is an indication that more trouble is on the horizon for the duo.

When Magistrate Deon Van Rooyen granted bail to the second accused in late October, he cited a lack of direct material evidence linking him to the crime. This is despite the fact that Mahlamba was out on bail when he was nabbed for the farm manager’s brutal murder while Matlaletsa, who has a longer rap sheet, was convicted of stock theft in the past.

The DNA analysis of blood samples taken from Horner’s bakkie at a private laboratory revealed both the accused couldn’t be linked conclusively to the abandoned bakkie. Furthermore, the clothing material found at Mahlamba’s premises, are still being analysed at a state laboratory.

When delivering his order on the bail applicantions Van Rooyen made an impassioned plea to Police Minister, Bheki Cele, urging him to use his influence to expedite investigations into the murder of Horner. Van Rooyen briefly reflected on the sensitivity of the case, furthermore expressing his concerns regarding the possibility of delays, specifically with regards to DNA analysis. He said in his experience, the backlog at the state forensic laboratory could set the trial back anywhere from around 6 months to a year. The Magistrate emphasised the sensitivity on the case, adding that the 21-year-old’s murder has brought “racial tensions, economic divisions in this small town, and the mistrust in the police” to the fore.

Horner’s body was discovered on 2 October at the Bloukruin Estate near Paul Roux. The case was meant to have sat in the Paul Roux Magistrate Court, but security concerns and wide media attention resulted in it being temporarily moved to the Senekal Magistrate’s Court.

When the two men made their first appearance in the bigger courthouse on 6 October, the situation descended into chaos as a group of protesters from the farming community across the country stormed the Senekal courthouse’s cells, in search of the accused. When they couldn’t find them, a police van was torched, and the courthouse property was vandalised. Two arrests were later made in connection with the latter incident.

Brendin Horner – Bail Denied and Bail Granted

Sekola Matlaletsa and Sekwetja Mahlamba were charged with the murder of 21-year-old Brendin Horner.  Today, the Senekal Magistrates Court as denied the bail application of Sekwetja Mahlamba while granting bail to Sekola Matlaletsa.  The court did not find enough evidence linking Matlaletsa to the murder and set bail at R5,000.  The case was then postponed to the 1st of  December 2020.

The State cited, among others, the men’s previous brushes with the law as well as their close proximity to the Lesotho border as reasons to deny them bail.  The DNA found in Horner’s car however did not match that of one of the accused and bail was granted.  The State however believes it still has a strong case going forward.

Other evidence in consideration will be the bloody pair of jeans found at the home of Mahlamba, which he claims is from slaughtering a sheep.   Both the accused were allegedly seen walking away from the area of the crime scene the morning after Horner was killed in wet clothes stained with blood.  Both men had alibis in the form of their family members who confirmed they were home at the time of Horner’s death.

National News – Brendin Horner Suspects Bail Hearing Continues

Sekwetje Mahlamba and Sekola Matlaletsa, the two men accused of murdering the young farm manager Brendin Horner, are due back in court today for their bail application. The two suspects  allegedly killed Horner when he caught them stealing stock, they strangled him and tied him to a pole.

Both suspects have prior cases of stock theft. Mahlamba is currently out on bail for a stock theft case (which is due to be heard by the court next month), when he murdered Horner. Mahlamba however insisted he spent the entire evening with his girlfriend. The police found blood stained pants at Mahlamba’s house, but he claims it was from slaughtering a sheep for a community member in the township. Matlaletsa did not take the stand however, but his attorney read an affidavit where he also claimed to be home the night that Horner was killed.

Meanwhile, the defence will be cross-examining investigating officer, Gerhardus Myburgh, today.  Myburgh dropped several bombs during his testimony, including a witness who told police he clearly saw three men early that morning when Horner had been killed and that their clothes were wet with blood stains visible. He also told the court that Horner’s bakkie was found with bloodstains belonging to three people.

Matlaletsa and Mahlamba were also reportedly heard boasting about how they beat up a white farmer and stole his car at a local tavern. Friday’s hearing happened amidst a town divided by different groups protesting. Racial tension was at boiling point as the EFF and other groups went “toe to toe”, but no serious damage was done, and no injuries was reported.

 

 

High Court grants Pienaar Bail

Andre Pienaar, accused of public violence and attempted murder during protests at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court, was granted bail this morning by the Free State High Court. Pienaar escalated his case last week after his bail application failed in the Senekal Magistrate’s Court.

Andre Pienaar is accused of firing his firearm in the Senekal Magistrate’s Court, setting a police van alight, and inciting a group of farmers to commit violence. A second suspect (33) was arrested on Friday and is expected to appear in court today, Monday 19 October 2020.

A group of farmers, allegedly led by Pienaar and his co-accused stormed the courthouse demanding the suspects in the Brendin Horner murder case to be released to the community. Pienaar’s attorney’s  however argued that his bipolar disorder demanded daily, carefully monitored, medication. They also argued that his medication had to be adjusted constantly to maintain a calm and steady state of mind.

Magistrate Mlangeni however said that Pienaar’s “unstable” condition would not stop him from committing other offences that may disturb the peace, and that bail conditions would not successfully prevent him from committing offences. Pienaar will stand trial for attempted murder, damage of state property, and incitement to violence.

Senekal Protests Update

16:10 Update – The case has been postponed to 20 October 2020 for the cross-examination of the investigating officer by the defense.

15:50 Update – While results of the analysis on the blood stained clothes is still outstanding, blood samples taken from Horner’s bakkie and sent for private testing by a private investigator, revealed if was the blood of three different males, according to Captain Myburgh

15:45 Update – The only item stolen from Horner’s body, was his wallet.  A witness told police that she overheard the accused saying they took the wallet of the man they assaulted on the farm.

15:15 Update – Myburgh testifies that the bloodstained clothes seized from Mahlamba’s residence has been sent for forensic testing and analysis.

15:08 Update – The post mortem determined that Horner was strangled to death.  He also suffered stab wounds on his arms, shoulder and hands, according to Myburgh.

15:05 Update – Captain Gerhardus Myburgh is now testifying for the State in the bail application of the accused.  Captain Myburgh is on the investigating team.

14:28 – Update – The state does not intend to lead Viva Voce evidence, and will be doing so by way of evidence.  They have asked for a short postponement until 15:00

14:10 Update – It is now extremely hot in Senekal.  The EFF leadership has disappeared.

13:22 Update – Matlaletsa claims he has two previous convictions for stock theft and one for illegally buying a pig.  Through the affidavit he tells the court that he has no pending cases against him.

13:15 Update – Matlaletsa, accused no 2, says he will be pleading not guilty and will remain silent with regards to the merits of the case.  He also said he is unemployed and living of a disability grant

12:55 Update – A video was posted about an hour ago of Colonel Franz Jooste, form SADF Civil Force.  “If they want war they will get it.”

12:46 Update – The State prosecutor alledges that Mahlamba’s girlfriend refutes his assertion that he was with her the night that Brendin Horner was murdered.  She stated under oath that he did not spend the entire evening with her on October 1st 2020.

12:22 Update – The state has a witness that claims to have heard Mahlamba boasting about how he “assaulted a white man on a farm”, while they were at a tavern on the 2nd of October, late in the afternoon.

12:20 Update – The State asks Mahlamba if police recovered his bloodied trousers from the Freezer in his house.  He denies the allegation and claims that there is no deep freezer in his house.

12:13 Update – EFF supporters have burned an ANC / Ramaphosa Tshirt in Senekal.

12:10 Update – EFF supporters have gathered in front of the stage again.  They are waiting for Julius Malema to address them once the bail hearing has been concluded.

11:55 Update – Court back in session.  The state will now cross-examine Mahlamba.  The state asked about assets he may have and if he will be paying for the bail amount himself.  Note: The state prosecutor has asked the court that he not be identified or have his images taken in court, and an order to that effect was granted.

11:50 Update – Young farmer explains in Afrikaans that they simply want a peaceful protest.

11:35 – A biker has been saying praying in front of EFF supporters outside the Senekal Magistrate’s court.

https://twitter.com/iol/status/1317036093301280769?s=21

11:30 Update – In court, Mahlamba claimed that he was not read his rights when arrested, and was never informed how he was linked to the murder of Brendin Horner.  He also claimed that police said they would release him.  The State will now cross-examine the accused, Mahlamba, after a short adjournment.

11:21 Update – EFF members destroy and vandalize public property.

11:12 Update – Inside the courtroom of the Senekal Magistrate’s Court.  Accused no 1 denies knowing accused no 2.  But he know where he lives

11:05 Update – The EFF wants to remove the name of Van Riebeeck Street.  Is this considered damage of state property?

11:00 Update- Reports off bricks and rocks being thrown at bikers by EFF supporters, police nowhere to be found.

10:55 Update – The first accused, Sekwetje Mahlamba has taken the stand.  He will be applying for bail via viva voce evidence.  He told the court he has a pending court case for stock theft and that he was out on bail when arrested for the murder of Brendin Horner. He coes not have a job and survives doing odd jobs, making around R1,500 a month.  He supports his girlfriend and a child.  Mahlamba said he has no previous criminal convictions and the stock theft charge is back in court in February 2021

10:45 Update – More tension between farmers and EFF

10:40 Update – The head of the African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) is strongly condemning the EFF

10:35 Update – It seems that tension is mounting in Senekal between the EFF and opposing protesters.

Update 10:25 – The state prosecutor opposed the media application to film proceedings and broadcast live.  The prosecutor argued that the case was at a sensitive stage and that he did not believe people should read the sensitive information on social media.  The magistrate adjourned the court and will return with a ruling on the media application for live broadcast of the case against the alleged killers of Brendin Horner

Update 10:20 – Julius Malema has now entered the court in Senekal.

Update 10:15 – After some singing of banned racist songs, EFF leaders made several short speeches denouncing farmers and Afriforum as “racist”.  The EFF crowd is moving into town now.  Malema told supporters: “This town is not called Senekal, its called Matjhabeng.”  He then told the EFF crowd to march into Senekal to see “our town”.

10:10 Update – The Farmer Protest crowd have grown in numbers.

10:05 Update – EFF leaders continue to address supporters.

09:55 Update – Areas surrounding the court has been barricaded with barbed wire fences to keep groups separated as tensions mount in Senekal.  Police have shown a strong presence in the town and helicopters and water cannons are at the ready.  A short incident between EFF members and a group called Kommandokorps were quickly resolved by police before it became violent.

The South African Sense of humour stays intact.  Several people have been tweeting: “KFC should charge double today in Senekal”, “OK FOODS could make some real profit with the EFF there today”

Bheki Cele, Minister of Police has just arrived at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court.

 

A group of farmers are gathered on an open field in Senekal.

EFF Supporters now singing the banned racist song “Shoot to kill, Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer”

 

Julius Malema just arrived and will be speaking to his followers now.

 

How did we end up here?  Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba, 32, and Piet Matlaletsa, 44, murdered the 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner on the 1st of October near Paul Roux.  Brendin’s body was tied to a pole with a rope around his neck.  At the first court appearance on the 6th of October, a group of angry farmers stormed the courthouse and demanded the suspects be handed over.  A police vehicle was also overturned and set alight.  52-year-old Andre Pienaar was arrested and charged with attempted murder, malicious damage to state property, and public violence.  He was denied bail earlier this week.   The two accused are due to appear in court today for the second time.

This morning, Senekal is quiet but rather tense.  Hundreds of EFF supporters have already gathered, brandishing golf clubs, cricket bats, and knopkieries.  Elsewhere a few farmers have started to gather.  Police have been out in full force since early this morning.  Although most parties present today have undertaken to keep it quiet and peaceful, there is a tense and unsettling atmosphere in the town.

 

 

EFF gathered in front of OK FOODS.

Breaking News – Julius Malema “We are going to get them”

Julius Malema, EFF leader, vowed today that the party’s planned protest rally in Senekal will go ahead.  Farmers stormed the Courthouse on Tuesday last week demanding that the two accused in the murder of Brendin Horner be handed over.  One man was arrested and has been charged with attempted murder and damage to state property.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo visited the area today to convey their condolences to the Horner family and to initiate discussions with the local farming groups.  Malema was speaking outside the Randburg Magistrate’s court where he and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi are facing charges of assaulting a policeman.  

Malema vowed that the red berets and the party’s ground forces would be in Senekal to protect state property from white protesters.  “We are not scared of them.  We are going to get them on Friday. We are going to face white men face to face,” Malema said.  Outside the courthouse Malema took a swipe at the police who maintained their presence as he addressed EFF supporters gathered there.  “You cowards allowed white people to burn your cars.  You are cowards.  We are not cowards.  We are getting them come Friday.  And there is no one who can stop us,” he told supporters outside the courthouse.

Meanwhile the DA has accused Malema of incitement to violence with his Tweets, and laid criminal charges against him.  The DA also lodged a complaint against Malema with Parliament’s ethics committee.  Malema said that the EFF would not be in Senegal to protect those accused of killing Brendin Horner, but to confront white arrogance and criminality.  “We have no business with murderers.  That black man who killed a white man must go and rot in jail.  it is not our problem.  we do not protect criminals but we will never allow white men to show us what they showed Mandela during the negotiations.  That thing must have ended here.  The white arrogance should have ended there.”

Crime – Farmer Drenched in Petrol Escapes Death

A Free State Farmer escaped a painful death when two men attacked him and poured petrol on him.  The farmer managed to jump into his pool before any serious injuries could be sustained.

Andries Smith Myburgh was having lunch at his farmhouse when he smelled smoke.  He immediately went to investigate and was attacked by two men.  One of the attackers tried to stab him with a knife while the over poured petrol on him.  He managed to reach his firearm and fired shots at the suspects.  It is suspected that the shots fired ignited the petrol.

Police Spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said: “He went to investigate and was hit with an object on the head but managed to push the suspect away. He was allegedly attacked with a knife by a second suspect and in the process he had petrol poured on him. The victim managed to pull out his firearm and the suspects fled.

’’He fired a number of shots in their direction and while firing, realised that he was on fire. He jumped into the swimming pool,”  Brigadier Makhele explained.  Myburgh alerted the police and neighbours. “One suspect was identified as being about 2m tall, wearing green overall trousers and a light blue shirt. The other one had a blue overall suit. Both suspects are unknown to the complainant. The complainant was attended by medical personnel but had no serious injuries,” said Makhele.

With emotions already at fever pitch in the in the Free State following the murder of Brendin Horner, this attack is bound to add fuel to the fire.  Ernst Roets of Afriforum said: “People are angry and fed up with a lack of action by South African government. We’ve had President Cyril Ramaphosa going into an international forum in 2018 and when asked about farm murders, he denied that it exists. And more recently, two weeks ago, we had Minister of Police Bheki Cele saying that farm murders are something that should not be a priority for the police.”

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