A Mpumalanga attorney representing four men accused of ritual murder has withdrawn from the case after receiving death threats.
Mpho Mashiloane of Dwarsloop in Bushbuckridge told a packed Mapulaneng magistrate's court yesterday that he was no longer prepared to represent the accused in their application for bail.
"I withdraw from this matter because I have received threats to myself and my family, but I have tried to arrange legal representation for the accused," Mashiloane said.
The bail application had been scheduled for yesterday and today .
Businessman Floyd Mokoena, 58, his son Sydney Toto Mokoena, 33, Justice Ndubane, 28, and Simon Nkosi, 32, are accused of cutting off the right testicle and removing brain and some bones from the body of Clearance Brown, 25, on the night of February 23 this year.
The court had earlier heard that the accused allegedly ran Brown over with Toto's Toyota Venture after the attack to make it look as if he had been a victim of a hit-and-run accident.
The four were arrested early last month. The incident has remained unsolved for about six months until the Mpumalanga police's organised crime unit took over investigations.
The accused have already appeared several times in court while members of the community protested outside the building carrying placards labelling them "vampires".
Mashiloane came under fire from angry villagers after each court hearing.
They also blocked the gate to his offices a few metres from the court premises.
Magistrate Rodgers Ritshuri yesterday postponed the bail hearing to September 29 and remanded the accused in jail.
"It is unfortunate that we are no longer going to proceed with the case today," Ritshuri told the accused. "As you have already heard, your lawyer has received threats."