Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Bushbuckridge executive mayor Milton Morema walked out of the high court a free man yesterday.

This was after he and two others had murder charges withdrawn against them by the Nelspruit circuit court of the Pretoria high court.

Morema, Luckios Mosoma and Erasmus Makhubele had their charges thrown out of court due to lack of evidence.

Members of the defence team, Coert Jordan and Mpho Mashiloane, successfully argued that, based on merit, there was insufficient evidence against the three men to warrant a trial and that the charges were "politically motivated".

Judge Cynthia Pretorius concurred with the defence team and dismissed the charges in a court filled with members of the public, police and journalists.

The three men immediately travelled to White River where a large crowd of supporters was waiting to hold a victory rally.

As Morema, an ANC chairperson in the Bohlabela region, climbed onto the back of a bakkie to make his address, the crowd ululated and danced.

The dramatic celebrations brought the new White River shopping complex to a standstill, with several shops closing their doors to avoid possible looting.

"Last night I had a vision. God's word came to me and said: be afraid of nothing because I'll always be by your side, call all the people and slaughter four heads of cattle to celebrate your triumph," Morema told the crowd.

He reiterated that the charges were politically motivated and promised to slaughter four cattle on Saturday to celebrate his victory at Mapulaneng FET College in Acornhoek.

Chief Eric Nxumalo, a supporter of Morema, thanked the crowd for standing by their mayor.

Violet Siwela, a member of the ANC's provincial executive committee, broke into a song and was joined by the crowd.

"Ga re batle nywere nywere, re batla Morema fela, ga re batle sorry, re batla Morema fela (We don't want nonsense or excuses we only want Morema)."

Morema and the two men were arrested on April 10 last year after being accused of murdering Jeffrey Sedibe in June 2003.

Sedibe was apparently a hitman who had been hired to kill Motion Mashile, a teacher who police said had political differences with Morema.

Acornhoek senior magistrate George Risimati had at one stage dismissed the charges, saying they were politically motivated.

But the charges were reinstated by the police.

The Pretoria high court had also earlier dismissed the charges, but the police reinstated them again, until their withdrawal yesterday.

"This is not a strange thing to us because every case follows a process that might either end with a conviction, discharge or even a withdrawal," Mpumalanga organised crime unit spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi said yesterday.