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Mentally fit to stand trial

By unknown | May 09, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

The Bethlehem magistrates' court ruled yesterday that a man accused of raping and killing a family domestic worker will stand trial.

Jan Potgieter, 22, is accused of raping and murdering Sibongile Mgeda, 24, of Bohlokong township near Bethlehem, Free State, in February.

Conflicting reports from two psychiatric experts were handed in to court. During his last appearance in March, Potgieter was referred for mental observation to determine if he was fit to stand trial.

Psychiatrist Paul Pretorius's report read: "The accused displayed anti-social behaviour like aggression. He was simulating symptoms of mental illness alleging that he has been experiencing auditory hallucination.

"[He] has the ability to understand court proceedings and give proper instructions to his defence. At the time of the alleged crime [he] had the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and control his actions."

But another psychiatrist, Emily Katunzi, said he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had been treated for hyperactivity disorder.

Her report said: "He attempted twice to commit suicide because he was responding to commanding auditory hallucinations. At the time of the alleged crime he suffered from a mental disorder."

Katunzi recommended he be sent to a mental institution.

But the magistrate ruled that he should stand trial and referred the matter to the high court.

Chaos briefly broke out in the public gallery when Potgieter's lawyer proposed he be kept in solitary confinement because he was being threatened in prison.

The case was postponed to July 4.


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