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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.

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.

EFF TO PROTEST FOR UIF

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema is calling for workers to contact the EFF party to alert it of companies that have not yet paid UIF.  Malema said the party was planning a mass action against all employers that have claimed UIF from the state and have not paid their employees.

The leader of the red berets was speaking at a media brief in Braamfontein on Monday afternoon.  He touched on a wide range of issues, including the party’s visit to Senekal this month, the appointment of Ranjeni Munusamy to Treasury, unrest in Nigeria, and the upcoming Presidential election in the United States of America.  Malema also weighed in on the Covid-19 pandemic, urging South Africans to remain vigilant amid threat of a second wave of infections.

He urged South Africans to exercise maximum caution: “The reality is that there is still no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus and the most dependable measure to limit its spread is social distancing, wearing of masks and recurrent hygiene practices, which include the washing of hands. The people of South Africa must stop behaving as if the coronavirus is gone. It is still here and the second wave of infection will kill a lot of people.”

 

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.”

Racial Tension must be Stopped – Modise

The National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise, urged parliamentarians to help defuse racial tension in communities.  This in response to the angry crowd that stormed the Senekal Magistrate Court where two men appeared for the murder of the young farmer, Brendin Horner.  A 52-year-old farmer was arrested for allegedly being involved in arson and vandalising state property. Bheki Cele welcomed the news of the arrest of the man and called for more arrests to be made.

Thandi Modise stated that racial tensions could not be allowed to escalate and called on all public representatives to be alert to what is happening in cities, towns and rural areas. “Honourable, members we can’t allow for racial tensions to escalate. We really, really owe it to this country to be the people who temper high feelings, [who] give direction, who smooth things out and to give explanations,” she urged the National Assembly’s Programming committee.  The agricultural community’s emotions reached boiling point when yet another brutal attack resulted in the death of Brendin Horner.

“I don’t think what is beginning to happen in this country is good, I don’t think any of us want to see any escalation of racial tensions. So, we begin to really pray and fight for South Africa – and for South Africa to survive on all of these things.”   Modise urged all public representatives to pray for the country.  The police was  also criticised for failing to act during the riot at Senekal on Tuesday morning where a police vehicle was overturned and set alight, allegedly by white farmers.  

Meanwhile the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have indicated that they would be present when the two men appeared in court next week which could further stir up racial tension in the Free State Community.

National News – Cele Calls for More Arrests

Bheki Cele, minister of police, on Wednesday said he was hoping for more arrests following the protests outside the Senekal Courthouse earlier this week.  On Tuesday, farmers poured into the Free State town of Senekal where the two accused in the Brendin Horner murder appeared in court.   A 52-year-old farmer was arrested for his alleged involvement in torching a police vehicle.

The protesters demanded justice and eventually stormed into the courthouse.  The demanded the suspects to be handed over to them.  The Minister’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Thema, said in a statement: “Police Minister Bheki Cele has welcomed the arrest of the first suspect involved in the violent demonstrations by a group of farmers outside Senekal Magistrates Court.  Minister Cele is encouraged that a 52-year-old farmer has been arrested for his role in the alleged torching of the police vehicle.”

“Cele is calling for more arrests as it is clear the criminality that took place was a collective act that threatened the rule of law.”  The minister’s response to Tuesday’s events has sparked outrage in the community with several allegations of double standards being made.  The Senekal demonstrations was compared to the EFF Clicks demonstrations and many said that the same laws did not apply there.

The brutal murder of Brendin Horner has been met with outrage.   Tuesday’s protests saw several people carrying placards with the words “Enough is Enough”, “Remember their Names” and “Bheki Cele Must Fall”.  Meanwhile a video has been doing the rounds on social media claiming that the man’s involvement is fake news.

The two suspects will appear in court again on 16 October 2020.

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