Modimolle trial moved to High Court

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modimolle co-accused PRETORIA NEWS File picture: Three men who allegedly assisted Johan Kotze in the rape and mutilation of his estranged wife, Ina Bonnette, in the dock at Modimolle Magistrates Court. Picture: Etienne Creux

The trial of four men accused of torturing and raping a Modimolle woman will start in November in the High Court in Pretoria.

This was determined when they appeared in the Modimolle Magistrate's Court on Friday.

“All the documents have been discussed and (the) defence went through them. The indictment is correct, therefore the matter can be placed before the High Court,” Magistrate Hannes Stoffberg said.

Earlier Stoffberg ruled that Johan Kotze, accused of orchestrating the gang rape of his estranged wife Ina Bonette and killing her son, will be sent for mental evaluation.

“Kotze meets the requirements in terms of the law and should be admitted to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital for evaluation,” Stoffberg said.

“Steps should be taken, as soon as possible, to book a bed for Kotze. (He) will stay in custody until a bed is available, then he will be transferred from the Pretoria Central Prison for evaluation.”

Kotze's defence argued that he be sent for evaluation, saying the crimes committed were not the “normal run-of-the-mill” ones.

“Medical records are needed so it can be clear when the trial starts,” defence attorney BL Bantjes said.

The State did not oppose the evaluation, saying it was Kotze's right to be evaluated, keeping in mind the “seriousness of the offence”.

Kotze would be evaluated on a 30-day basis.

Friday was the first time Kotze, 50, and his co-accused Andries Sithole, Peter Mohlako, and Sello Mphaka appeared in court together.

Kotze hired the three men to work in the garden of his rented home in Modimolle. On January 3, he allegedly forced them at gunpoint to rape his ex-wife and mutilate her with objects including nails, a screwdriver, and an angle-grinder. Kotze also lured his stepson, Conrad, to the house and allegedly shot and killed him.

Conrad's father Rex Bonette, his grandfather, aunt, and uncle sat in the front row of the packed courtroom. The neatly shaven Kotze wore a yellow checked shirt, blue jeans, and a jacket.

During a short recess Rex approached the dock and greeted Kotze before returning to his seat.

“It was an emotional decision but I wanted to face this - I wanted to face Kotze. He just greeted me and I greeted him back. I just wanted eye-contact with him,” Rex told reporters outside court.

“I'm doing this for my son Conrad. It's bad for us (the family), but we are coping. It's quite a road to walk.”

Sithole, Mohlako and Mphaka sat quietly, occasionally looking to the public gallery and waving to people in court.

Stoffberg earlier ruled that no photographs could be taken of the four men inside court.

“Kotze says he feels intimidated with all the photographers in court,” Bantjes argued.

Kotze has chosen not to apply for bail. His co-accused were denied bail after they failed to prove there were exceptional circumstances for them to qualify.

The men face seven charges and three alternative charges including rape, murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and attempt to do grievous bodily harm.

The men told the court they understood the charges against them.

The trial would run from November 19 to 30, with 34 witnesses expected to testify. - Sapa


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