Provisions of the new Child Justice Act stalled sentencing proceedings in the Eugene Terre’Blanche murder trial on Monday, with a probation officer indicating he first has to interview the AWB leader’s family before compiling his mitigating report.
State advocate George Baloyi told the Ventersdorp Regional Court that Johan Engel would need at least six weeks to interview Terre’Blanche’s family and compile his report on Patrick Ndlovu – the man who was barely 16 when Terre’Blanche was killed.
According to Baloyi, Engel said there had not been enough time to complete all the interviews that would form part of the report. Over the past month, Engel has assessed the 18-year-old and his family.
Originally charged for the murder along with Chris Mahlangu, Ndlovu was acquitted on the murder charge last month after Judge John Horn found that the State had failed to advance evidence indicating he participated in the killing.
With no forensic evidence linking him to the crime, Ndlovu was convicted on a charge of breaking into Terre’Blanche’s house with the intention to steal.
His attorney, Zola Majavu, was disappointed with Monday’s postponement, but said he “respects that the victim’s family also has to be heard”.
While a psychologist’s report on Mahlangu has already been completed, Baloyi said some amendments still had to be made before it is presented before court.
Mahlangu was convicted last month for the 2010 Easter long weekend murder, with Judge Horn ruling that the man who claimed to have attacked Terre’Blanche in self-defence had broken into the AWB leader’s house with the intention to steal. He also found him guilty on a charge of robbery.
The judge dismissed claims that Mahlangu had attacked the AWB leader in self-defence, agreeing with blood-spatter expert Lieutenant-Colonel Ian van der Nest’s evidence that Terre’Blanche was hit so hard on his head that the first blow had incapacitated him, making it impossible to fight back.
“Evidence shows, including admissions made by accused one (Mahlangu), that accused one went into the farm of the deceased and entered his home with the intention to rob and kill him. To that end, he armed himself with an iron rod. He broke into the deceased’s house and there attacked and killed him,” the judge said.
While conceding that Mahlangu had a constitutional right to remain silent, he criticised his decision not to give evidence, saying that he should have used the opportunity to answer to overwhelming evidence against him.
“It may very well be that because of the convincing case against accused one, he considered it futile to give evidence,” he pointed out.
Despite Judge Horn’s verdict, residents of Tshing still hold Mahlangu in high regard, and they gathered outside court yesterday, brandishing placards mocking Terre’Blanche’s family and the AWB.
On the opposite side of the street stood members of the AWB breakaway group the Gelofde Volk.
Among them was a boy of about eight, who told off a photographer when asked why he was not in school.
“If you are looking for trouble, that’s what you’ll get,” said the youngster.
Judge Horn postponed the matter to August 20.