Withdrawn murder case looks set to be reinstated

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

The farm owner and his accomplice on whose farm a hunter's body was found would be rearrested and charged with murder if forensic results proved their culpability.

This was said by Limpopo police spokesman Senior Superintendent Motlafela Mojapelo.

Mojapelo's comments come after the latest report from the Pretoria forensic laboratory regarding the case of Richard Mkhari who disappeared from the farm earlier this year.

The report confirms that it was indeed Richard's body that was found on the farm.

Mkhari, 47, disappeared on July 15 after he had gone to hunt illegally on Vygeboom farm in Eiland outside Phalaborwa.

Farm owner Johan van Niekerk and an accomplice, Gert Janse van Vuuren, were arrested and later released on R10000 bail each.

The state had provisionally withdrawn the case against the two because of insufficient evidence linking them to the murder.

Mojapelo said after discovering Mkhari's body later on the farm, they took it to the laboratory in Pretoria for further tests to determine whether the DNA results would match those of his other family members.

He said the results confirmed it was Richard's body that was discovered on the farm.

"Based on the report and DNA tests that were conducted on the remains we found on Van Niekerk's farm it became clear that it was Mkhari's body that we found," Mojapelo said.

He said, however, that it was not yet clear as to how Mkhari died. "We are currently awaiting a report that will indicate how Mkhari's death came about. This normally takes time," he said.

He said the reason for the delays was because the body was in an advanced state of decomposition when it was found.

Mojapelo added that should the report indicate that Van Niekerk, 69, and Van Vuuren, 22, were responsible for Mkhari's death, the two would be rearrested and charged with murder.

Mkhari's body was returned to his family for burial. His funeral took place on October 25.

Mkhari had 10 dogs accompany him when he went to hunt on the farm. Only six of the dogs returned home.

Van Niekerk has confessed to having shot dead the other four.