Court reserves judgment in bail application of car guard 'killer'

Lukas van der Merwe is accused of killing car guard Vusi Mgiqwa.
Lukas van der Merwe is accused of killing car guard Vusi Mgiqwa.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The man accused of killing car guard Vusi Mgiqwa will spend another few days behind bars as judgment on his bail was reserved in the Springs Magistrate’s Court on Monday. Lukas van der Merwe, 39, had expected the court to decide on his bail application.

The state called Constable Nokuthula Mhlophe, the investigating officer, who testified on the evidence she has gathered on the matter so far. Mhlophe told the court that Van der Merwe should not be given bail as she fears he may evade the trial seeing that he is facing serious charges.

“The accused can still run away. On the day of the incident, he drove off after beating the deceased. He drove through a red robot, running away from the scene. He could have caused an accident because of his actions… I think he can run away knowing the possible sentence that he is facing should a conviction be successful,” said Mhlophe.

He further explained that she has spoken to a community leader in Tsakane on the East Rand where Mgiqwa, 25, lived and they have threatened protest in court if the accused is released on bail. On October 26, Mgiqwa was in Selcourt in Springs when an altercation took place between him and Van der Merwe. 

The accused punched Mgiqwa and he fell on his head. Van der Merwe then drove off. Mgiqwa was taken to hospital where he later died.

Van der Merwe’s lawyer Pieter Wilkins argued that the accused should not be charged with murder because he only punched his victim. He said the court should not entertain the bail application as a Schedule 6 offence which carries a life sentence. For the accused to receive bail in a Schedule 6 offence he has to prove that exceptional circumstances exist which require him to be granted bail.

The state insists that the charges are a Schedule 6 offence and argues that Van der Merwe has failed to prove any exceptional circumstances which can allow him to receive bail. Magistrate Carla Verster reserved judgment on the bail application, saying she needs time to consider all the facts presented before the court. She is expected to present her judgment on December 4.

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