Shock, anger and confusion flickered across the faces of six men in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday as their murder trial dating back seven years was ordered to start all over again following the death of the presiding judge.
Some of the accused, in custody since their August 2010 arrests, indicated that they might now want to lodge fresh bail applications based on new facts.
While the state and the defence had closed their cases, Judge Bonisile Sandi had not delivered a verdict – something they had been waiting for since late 2015.
Sandi died last month following a lengthy illness.
Khangelani Matebe, 28, Fundile Nqwensu, 23, Luyanda Nkolose, 28, Mzuvukile Foli, 27, Fuzile Kosana, 26, and Athenkosi Mtshayisa, 23, had pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, murder, housebreaking, robbery and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
They are accused of breaking into Floris Kruger’s home in La Marseilles Road near St Albans Prison on August 31 2010. The house was ransacked and Kruger, 60, tortured throughout the night. He eventually died from his injuries.
Yesterday, Judge Dayalin Chetty explained to the frustrated murder accused, who described the process as “unfair”, that the trial would now have to start afresh in front of another judge.
Chetty advised that in the meantime, the men discuss their bail options with their various legal counsel.
The matter was accordingly set down for trial between July 31 and August 18.
Chetty said he would arrange for a senior judge to preside over the case.