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'Race' murder protest

By unknown | Feb 28, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

The small town of Bethlehem, in the Free State, came to life yesterday when a 22-year-old man accused of raping and murdering his family's domestic worker appeared in the local magistrates' court.

Gerhardus Jan Potgieter is alleged to have raped Sibongile Mgeda, 24, before killing her last week.

According to police spokesman Motarafi Ntepe police have not yet established how the woman was murdered because they are still awaiting the postmortem results.

The local ANC Women's League has deplored the murder as being racially motivated.

The area's ward councillor, Malefu Vilakazi, said they were protesting because they had been told that the accused had been reported to be mentally ill.

"It is said that Potgieter drank some medicine after raping and killing Sibongile and was admitted to hospital," said Vilakazi.

"We see this as a means to protect him from going to jail because he is white and he has killed a black person. We want to see justice take its course. He must stay in jail until the matter is finalised," she said.

Ntepe confirmed that Potgieter was arrested last Friday after he was admitted to the Hoogland Medi-Clinic.

His arrest follows the discovery of Mgeda's naked body at the bird park in Pretorius Kloof in Bethlehem. Mgeda, who worked at Potgieter's residence, was last seen on Friday morning before going to work.

"Mgeda and her always exchanged SMSes when they left work. But on Friday she never answered her phone and the friend became worried," said Ntepe.

"Her friend started to inquire about her whereabouts but no one knew where she was."

Police launched an investigation after Mgeda was reported missing.

"Potgieter's neighbours reported having seen him carrying something in a bag. When police went to his home they found a blood-stained bag," said Ntepe.

Potgieter appeared before magistrate B Mita and was remanded in custody. He will appear again on March 6 for a bail hearing.


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