Murder charge mayor not out of the woods

SHOWMAN: Milton Morema, mayor of Bushbuckridge, addresses supporters outside court after one of his previous appearances on murder charges, which were later withdrawn. PHOTO: Riot Hlatshwayo. 20/07/08. © Sowetan.
SHOWMAN: Milton Morema, mayor of Bushbuckridge, addresses supporters outside court after one of his previous appearances on murder charges, which were later withdrawn. PHOTO: Riot Hlatshwayo. 20/07/08. © Sowetan.

Riot Hlatshwayo and Frank Maponya

Riot Hlatshwayo and Frank Maponya

Political parties in Mpumalanga are upset that the Pretoria high court has stopped Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula from rearresting Milton Morema on murder charges.

Embattled Bushbuckridge executive mayor Morema, Lakios Mosoma and Erasmus Makhubele were to appear before the Polokwane regional court last Thursday, but applied to the high court for an interdict to stop their trial.

The three are accused of murdering Jeffrey Sedibe, 23, in 2003 after they had allegedly hired him to kill a teacher, Motion Mashile, earlier that year.

The Mpumalanga police have insisted that the trio face two charges of murder, but Mpho Mashiloane, one of their lawyers, wants them to face only a single count.

The high court has ordered the minister and the director of public prosecutions to show cause, before July 31, why the interim interdict should not be made a final order.

The interdict has kept Morema and his co-accused out of jail for almost two weeks while justice officials file their replies.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) said it was watching developments with interest.

UDM provincial secretary Daniel Makgope said: "If a person is not guilty he goes to the court that has the authority to deal with the matter, instead of applying for an interdict."

Two weeks ago Makgope led a march to protest the withdrawal of the charges against the trio. He said the latest developments were the "last kick of a dying horse".

DA Mpumalanga chief whip Clive Hatch said: "We believe that suspects should have their day in court instead of using tricks to stay out of jail."

Morema, Mosoma and Makhubele were arrested in April on charges of murder, but magistrate George Risimati struck the case off the roll on May 27.

He said the court was convinced the charges had arisen from a political conspiracy against Morema, who was expected to be elected to a high position in the ANC's provincial executive committee.

Sedibe was allegedly promised R17000 for the hit, but disappeared after trying to collect his money.

The police exhumed what they believe to be Sedibe's remains but said they were waiting for DNA results to confirm their suspicions before proceeding with the case against the trio.

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