Riots flare up as farmers appear in court for the murder of Coka brothers

Protestors shut down Piet Retief town

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
The five men accused of the murder of Zenzele and Mgcini Xoka inside the Piet Retief magistrate's court applying for bail.
The five men accused of the murder of Zenzele and Mgcini Xoka inside the Piet Retief magistrate's court applying for bail.
Image: Mandla Khoza

The Piet Retief town in Mpumalanga has been brought to a complete halt with shops closed and schools not operating as hundreds of protestors demanded that the five men arrested for the murder of two local brothers not be granted bail. 

A formal bail hearing in the Piet Retief magistrate's court yesterday took place amid a heightened police presence in the small town near Eswatini border. 

On Monday night, the community members, accompanied by political parties  ANC, EFF and IFP, and union federation Cosatu, went on the rampage damaging police vehicles during violent protests. Earlier in the day, the suspects, who include four white farmers – Daniel Malan, 38, Cornelius Greyling, 26, Othard Clingberg, 58, and Michael Sternberg, 31, – and a one black man (Zenzele Patrick Yende, 48) had appeared in court for the murder of Zenzele and Mgcini Coka. 

Mpumalanga police said no one had been arrested for the Monday night mayhem, which included one protestor being  stabbed by another person in the crowd.

Police spokesperson Col Donald Mdhluli said apart from the damage to two police cars, windows of three private vehicles were smashed during the protests.

"“The police management in Mpumalanga are condemning in the strongest possible terms the unruly behaviour as well as acts of lawlessness displayed by a group of individuals who destroyed other people's properties and looted some items from a store,"  Mdhluli said.

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