Durban - Four men accused of beating to death a former Royal Marine outside a rugby match pleaded not guilty in the Durban Regional Court on Monday.
Apart from a charge of murder, the four also face three charges of assault, one of crimen injuria, and one of public violence.
It emerged during the reading of the charges that one of the security guards claimed to have been called “a k****r”, and that this had led to the crimen injuria charge.
The four men are out on bail of R5000 each.
It is alleged that brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, and Dustin van Wyk beat Brett Williams to death at Kings Park Stadium following a Super Rugby match between the Sharks and the Melbourne Rebels last year.
Williams's fiancee Louise Scott watched the proceedings from the public gallery.
Before the proceedings started, a tearful Scott, who was accompanied by an unknown friend, sat outside the courtroom watching the four men chat with their family, friends and lawyers.
She then entered the public gallery and sat at the back of the courtroom with her head bowed.
Christo van Schalkwyk, for the Shephard brothers, told magistrate Trevor Levitt there was “a lack of objective, unbiased, constitutional, investigative process”.
He told the court he would argue that the State had failed to preserve and test blood tissue from William's post mortem. He said the State should also have photographically recorded the post mortem and there were concerns about how it was conducted.
He would also contest the holding of an identity parade after his clients' identities had been made public.
He said he would also make an issue about the lack of investigation of a previous alleged assault on Williams, and the effect this might have had on him.
Charges against a fifth accused, Grant Cramer, were dropped last year because of a lack of evidence linking him to the crime.
He had faced one count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
At their appearance in June 2013, prosecutor Krishen Shah said Williams allegedly had an altercation with Cramer outside the stadium on the night of March 23.
Cramer had a choke-hold on Williams and he lost consciousness, Shah told the court. Paramedics revived him, but the other four allegedly kicked and punched him in a second altercation later.
Paramedics were unable to revive Williams again, and he was declared dead at the scene.
Williams and Scott, who lived in Taunton in the county of Somerset in south-west England, have a daughter.
Scott flew out from England over the weekend to attend the trial. The trial continues. - Sapa