Two court cases postponed for psychiatric evaluations

Maxwell Muller says goodbye to his family in court after he was convicted of the November 2017 murder of Haakeem Baartman, 2
SENTENCE BEGINS: Maxwell Muller says goodbye to his family in court after he was convicted of the November 2017 murder of Haakeem Baartman, 2
Image: Eugene Coetzee

While the Port Elizabeth High Court began hearing civil matters using video streaming service Zoom, two criminal matters were postponed on Friday due to reasons other than national lockdown regulations.

An alleged serial rapist and two men accused of murder and attempted murder had their cases postponed while the state confirmed the availability of beds at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital.

In the first instance Xolile Peter, 23, of Kwanobhule, accused of raping at least seven young women and girls aged between 12 and 24 over a two-year period, had his matter postponed.

Peter faces 15 charges including seven of rape, two of kidnapping, four of attempted robbery, robbery with aggravating circumstances and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

In November Peter pleaded not guilty before his defence advocate Jodine Coertzen raised concerns to the court that her client might not have the mental capacity to understand court proceedings.

At the time Coertzen said that after a number of consultations with Peter it had become evident to her that he might not be fully aware of what was happening around him.

A request was made for Peter to be admitted to Makhanda’s psychiatric hospital for mental evaluation. His matter was postponed to May 22.

Previously, prosecutor Mujaahid Sandan told the court that the next available bed would only be in July or August.

Similarly, the case against alleged gangsters Maxwell Muller and Emmanuel Sampson, both 22, was also postponed to May 22 for a date to be arranged for Sampson to be admitted to Fort England.

At the start of the trial Sampson did not plead to the seven charges he faces, including one of murder, two of attempted murder and two of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Sampson’s co-accused, Muller pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Muller was sentenced in October to an effective 25 years for his involvement in the November 2017 murder of two-year-old Haakeem Baartman, who was struck in the head by a stray bullet while playing in the front yard of his family’s Helenvale home.

It is alleged that on November 24, 2017, Sampson and Muller orchestrated a hit on two men, who are not being named as they are under witness protection.

During the alleged attack on the two, then aged 16 and 17, Methwill Benedict Witbooi was shot in the chest and later died.

It is alleged that the two who survived the attack were state witnesses in another shooting for which Muller is standing trial.

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