A magistrate has warned politicians to stop using courts as battlefields by initiating cases against fellow politicians in a bid to benefit from their downfall.
Senior magistrate George Risimati gave the warning in the Acornhoek magistrate's court in Mpumalanga during the appearance of Bushbuckridge executive mayor Milton Morema and two others on Tuesday.
Morema, Lakios Mosoma and Erasmus Makhubele were facing a charge of double murder, but they all walked out of court free after Risimati struck the case off the roll after a lengthy legal argument.
Risimati's warning came after the defence lawyer for the three men, Mpho Mashiloane, pointed out that their arrest had been politically motivated.
Mashiloane said: "We are dealing with a prominent and high-profile politician who has a lot to lose as a direct result of his arrest or the unreasonable delay in dealing with this case."
Morema is the ANC regional secretary for Bohlabela region and a mayor who might be elected into the provincial executive committee of the party.
"He may not be elected if this case continues to hang around his neck," said Mashiloane.
The lawyer said he believed Morema's rivals had abused their power and had orchestrated allegations that would ensure that he would be out of the race by the time of the elections in June.
After Mashiloane had addressed the court and convinced it that Morema was a victim of a political smear campaign, Risimati summarised his judgment and warned politicians.
"I must point out that the game of politics is not welcome here.
"This court is not a battlefield for politicians. I know nothing about politics as they are dealt with in Parliament and in chambers of the provincial legislatures," said Risimati.
Morema, Mosoma and Makhubele were arrested last month following allegations that they had killed Jeffrey Sedibe and Motion Mashile about five years ago. They had allegedly hired Sedibe to kill Mashile, whose body was found with a bullet wound.
Police said that shortly after the arrests, Mashile, a teacher, had political differences with Morema.
Close sources said Mashile could not have been Morema's political rival because he was a teacher and not a political activist.
Sedibe had allegedly been promised R17000 to carry out the hit, but allegedly disappeared after he tried to get payment.
Police exhumed the remains of a person they believe was Sedibe and said they were still waiting for DNA results before they could continue with the case.
But the defence argued that the remains that the police had exhumed were not Sedibe's, and the delay about the DNA results were unnecessary because nobody was sure Sedibe was indeed dead.