Uproar as farmer is granted bail

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The Phalaborwa magistrates' court in Limpopo roared in disbelief when a game farmer, accused of kidnapping an alleged poacher, was granted bail.

Magistrate Helena Buitendag granted the farmer, Johan van Niekerk, 69, R10000 bail.

Buitendag said, unless there was substantial evidence to the contrary, the accused, who is an elderly man, should not be kept in jail.

She ordered Van Niekerk to report to the Gravelotte police station every two days.

The farmer's lawyer, Johan Steyn said the victim, Richard Mkhari, 40, was a Mozambican who had a family in South Africa.

Steyn said Mkhari could still be hiding in bushes elsewhere on his way to Mozambique.

Police said earlier that Van Niekerk had told them he had found Mkhari poaching on his farm and he had tied him to a tree.

Later, he had found that the missing man had untied himself and fled.

The decision to grant bail caused consternation in court as people shook their heads.