mayor NOW A FREE MAN
The case against a Mpumalanga executive mayor accused of murder was struck off the roll in a dramatic court appearance yesterday.
Bushbuckridge mayor Milton Morema and two others were over the moon when magistrate George Risimati withdrew the charges against them at the Acornhoek magistrate's court.
This followed a lengthy legal wrangle that saw defence lawyer Mpho Mashiloane make reference to the rape case of ANC president Jacob Zuma.
The state asked for the postponement of the case for further police investigations and to obtain the outcome of DNA tests.
But Mashiloane concentrated on the allegations that Morema and the two accused had killed Jeffrey Sedibe on June 4 2003.
"The police claim they have been investigating this case since 2003," he said, adding that the matter should be struck off the roll because it has been a month since the arrest of the suspects but no DNA samples have been taken from the victim's family members.
Mashiloane argued that the police brought in journalists when they arrested Morema, but could not produce any evidence against him or any of the accused.
"The police have all the resources," Mashiloane said. "They came to arrest the suspects in more than 40 cars they could have used to fetch the DNA results if ever the samples had been taken.
"The state is also arguing this case without a docket."
He said that it took the police less than 24 hours to obtain DNA results in "the famous Jacob Zuma trial" but it was taking "forever for them to get DNA results relating to this matter".
Magistrate Risimati ruled in favour of the defence and struck the matter off the roll.
"I've heard from the defence that when the accused were arrested it was as if the police were making a Hollywood movie," Risimati said.
"They now claim to be waiting for DNA results as if they want to take samples from the victim's ghost."
Morema, Erasmus Makhubele and Lakios Mosoma were accused of killing Motion Mashile and Jeffrey Sedibe.
They allegedly buried Sedibe's body at the Mahushu cemetery near Hazyview. The police exhumed a body believed to be that of Sedibe last month.
Risimati adjourned the proceedings for a few minutes to allow Morema to calm his supporters outside the court.
Morema is the second mayor in the province against whom murder charges are withdrawn.
Sipho Nkosi, the Govan Mbeki municipality mayor, was recently acquitted on a charge of murdering Nomsa Mtsweni, his deputy.