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Cop, PIs get bail in vagrant murder trial

Cape Town - Two private investigators and a police officer facing murder charges for the death of a vagrant have been released on bail of R2 000.

On Wednesday, Hendric Jones, 62, and John Ross, 56, and policewoman Lieutenant Hester Blom, 53, left the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court having spent the weekend in custody after the death of Algin Bester, 34.

Hendric Jones, above, and John Ross, below, leave the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court where they were granted bail. Pictures: Willem Law. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Peter Mihalik, for the three, questioned investigating officer Warrant Officer Sidney van der Heever, who said he was not opposed to bail on any other grounds, apart from the fact it was considered a “serious offence”.

Mihalik argued that there was not sufficient evidence for his clients to be charged with a serious offence such as murder, saying the charge was more likely to be manslaughter – which is considered to be a less serious offence.

The court heard that post-mortem results were not yet available.

Bester was found with his hands and feet bound about 500m from the Haven Night Shelter in Kraaifontein, where he slept. Jones, Ross and Blom were at the scene when police arrived.

Mihalik argued that the State had no evidence to prove that the three had planned to kill Bester or that the crime was premeditated.

The defence argues that the two investigators and the police officer had been investigating a sexual harassment complaint of a 22-year-old woman from Sea Point when the incident occurred.

Blom, an officer from Sea Point, had been on duty and wearing plain clothes when she and her co-accused approached Bester. It is believed a scuffle ensued with witnesses placing the three at the scene.

Van Der Heever said there were several questions “hanging in the air” following the incident that morning.

He said that the officer knew where to find Bester, and if she had been following procedure she would have gone to the shelter to inquire about him and have a formal consultation.

“The question is why didn’t they go inside the place to ask for him?”

Magistrate Schearlton Cloete granted R2 000 bail with conditions. The investigators and the officer are due to appear in court again on October 16.

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