Murder accused asks to 'help bury' victims
THE principal of an initiation school where four initiates were killed has asked the Botshabelo Magistrate's Court in Free State to release him so that he can assist with their burial.
Daniel Thabatau, 29, yesterday asked magistrate Catherine le Roux to let him out of prison to assist the families of the deceased with their burials.
"I ask this court to release me today to go and assist the families of those boys. They died under my care and I feel that I should play a part in their burials," Thabatau said.
But Le Roux told him there was no way he would be released. "You are facing serious charges of murder. This court is not going to release you before you formally apply for bail.
"You should first have a legal representative to assist you with the formal bail application and the trial. If convicted you could be sent to jail for a long time. People facing such serious charges need lawyers to represent them," Le Roux said.
Thabatau, his younger brother Lehlohonolo Thabatau, 26, and two other teachers, Mohau Motumi, 24, and Sesing Chapi, 21, are facing four counts of murder and assault with intend to cause grievous bodily harm.
The men allegedly killed initiates Morena Potsane, 17, Mthandazo Kuzwayo, 19, Itumeleng Tshiane, 19, and another initiate who has not been identified.
The deceased were severely assaulted on their upper bodies and their buttocks were burnt with hot iron rods at the weekend.
Police spokeswoman Constable Consolation Mokoale said the police became aware of the four deaths after one of the initiates died in hospital from severe assault wounds.
Police went to the school and found 30 initiates and three bodies.
Eleven of the initiates were taken to hospital with serious injuries. The school was not registered.
Mokoale said they are battling with illegal initiation schools that are mushrooming in Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.
Last week, Itumeleng Mojafi, 17, died under mysterious circumstances at an initiation school in Thaba Nchu. No arrests have been made in connection with his death. Last year three initiates were also killed at initiation schools in Thaba Nchu. The initiates were from Ficksburg, Free State.
Thabatau and his three co-accused are expected to appear again in court next week for their formal bail application. - firstname.lastname@example.org