The four farmers and one farm manager arrested for, among other charges, the alleged murder of two men in Mpumalanga’s Dirkiesdorp area near Piet Retief in the Mkhondo Local Municipality on 9 April, were released on R10 000 bail each by the Piet Retief Magistrate’s Court on 30 April.
The matter was postponed until 30 June to allow police investigators more time to finalise their investigation in preparation for the men’s criminal trial.
This was according to Monica Nyuswa, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Mpumalanga, who added that bail conditions for Othard Johann Klingenberg (53), Daniel Cornelius Malan (38), Cornelius Lourens Greyling (25), Ignatius Michael Steinberg (31), and Zenzele Yende (48) included that the five accused not interfere with state witnesses in the case and that they also not discuss the case with their farmworkers.
The men were charged with shooting and killing brothers Mgcini (36) and Zenzele Coka (39) on Pampoenkraal Farm, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.
Conflicting statements have been presented by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the media regarding the possible motives behind the shootings and other charges.
Meanwhile racial divides and tensions in the Piet Retief area escalated as a result of the alleged murders, with agricultural associations and some government officials having to call for calm.
A statement issued by Mpumalanga Agriculture (MP Agri) said that the association’s leaders were relieved that the accused had been granted bail.
The statement praised the SAPS for maintaining law and order outside the Piet Retief Magistrate’s Court while the bail hearing was underway, and also thanked MP Agri’s affiliate, Agri Piet Retief, and other organisations that worked with police for handling “a very volatile situation with calmness”.
“Mpumalanga Agriculture asks for a full investigation to ensure that the correct law procedures were adhered to during and after the incident on 9 April 2021. Mpumalanga Agriculture, while working closely together with other organisations, would like to prevent the reoccurrence of a similar tragedy ever happening again,” the statement said.
Nyuswa told Farmer’s Weekly that the NPA was confident that the accused still had a case to answer in court.