Family livid as car guard murder accused is given bail

FILE IMAGE: Lukas van der Merwe in court.
FILE IMAGE: Lukas van der Merwe in court.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The man accused of killing car guard Vusi Mgiqwa will spend Christmas with his family after being granted bail of R6,500 by the Springs magistrate’s court.

Lukas van der Merwe, 39, appeared briefly in  court on Thursday and his case was postponed to January 15 for further investigations.

Van der Merwe was granted bail with a condition that he reports to the Springs police station between 6am and 6pm every Monday.

The Springs, Ekurhuleni,  mechanic had spent over a month behind bars. During his bail application, his lawyers argued that he had no intention of avoiding trial and had already surrendered his passport. On October 26, Van der Merwe punched Mgiqwa outside a restaurant in Selcourt, Springs, after an altercation over parking. Mgiqwa fell on his head and was left unconscious due to the head injuries he suffered. He later died in hospital.

Van der Merwe left Mgiqwa on the ground and sped off with his wife and child in his car. However, witnesses took his car registration number and alerted the police immediately.  The accused was arrested at his home on October 29 with the help of informants. Mgiqwa’s family has constantly called for him not to be granted bail due the statement that he made through his lawyers in court.

In court, Van der Merwe indicated that he would plead not guilty to the charge of murder. He argued that Mgiqwa did not die because of his punch but because he landed on his head.

The Mgiqwa family was fuming after  Van der Merwe’s statement was read in  court. They described his statement as insensitive and an insult to the pain they suffered for losing their loved one. They told the Sowetan that Mgiqwa did not take any medication and would not have fallen by himself and died.

During bail application, Van der Merwe’s lawyers said that the state had no grounds to charge him with premeditated murder as there were no facts to back this argument. However, the state indicated that there was already one witness who said that on the evening of the assault, Van der Merwe went to his car to drop the food he had bought. He left the food with his wife and child in the car, put on a knuckle buster and then attacked Mgiqwa.

Mgiqwa had worked as a car guard for years providing for his family in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni.

Local ANC leaders in Tsakane described Mgiqwa’s killing as an act  fueled by racism.  

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