The two young Mid-Illovo, KZN, farmers who were originally charged with the murder of an alleged poacher in 2004, Justin Lusso and Nick van Rooyen, have had all charges dropped against them and have been ordered by the prosecution in the case to become state witnesses against two others accused of the murder.
According to Lusso’s and Van Rooyen’s lawyer, Matthew Hancock, Lance Muller and Shain Redgard of the Mid-Illovo Farm Protection Unit, also had the charges dropped against them late last year for their alleged involvement in the murder of Bonginkosi Dlamini (57) who was found trespassing on Kanga Farm with a pack of dogs in 2004. The prosecution did not give reasons at the time for dropping the charges against the four men. “Subsequent to the charges being dropped, the state has decided to re-institute murder charges against Muller and Redgard, and also subpoenaed my clients, Justin Lusso and Nick van Rooyen, to become state witnesses in the case against the two accused,” Hancock told Farmer’s Weekly. “Justin and Nick’s attitudes in giving evidence in this trial are indicative of their views from the outset where, at their bail hearing, they maintained their innocence of any wrongdoing and added that they had nothing to hide in respect of the murder charge.”
After being found with his dogs on Kanga Farm, Dlamini was allegedly severely assaulted and some of his dogs were shot before he was handed over to the police. After laying a charge of assault with the police, the victim spent some weeks in hospital before returning home where he died. The assault charge was then raised to a murder charge, and the four initial accused appeared a number of times in the Richmond Magistrates Court and the Pietermaritzburg High Court before the charges were dropped against them, and then reinstated against Muller and Redgard. Senior state advocate, Dorian Paver, who is heading the prosecution, was not available to explain why he had decided to once again pursue the murder charge against the farm protection members. – Lloyd Phillips