Northcliff murder suspects freed on bailComment on this story
Johannesburg - The widow of a Northcliff man who was slain along with his sister wasn’t in court on Tuesday, but the news of what transpired there would have been shattering when it reached her.
Kenneth Schroder - the man she remembered as her comforter and who is now accused in the murder of her husband Gary Smith and his sister Karen Buchanan - was released on bail. Schroder, 53, was on Tuesday granted bail of R15 000 along with his co-accused, Paul Mundel, 39.
Smith and Buchanan were bound, gagged, beaten, had their teeth pulled, and darts were thrown at Smith, while Buchanan was stripped naked, in a horrific murder five years ago that shocked the upmarket suburb of Northcliff. Two of their dogs were killed and another two kicked while trying to help them.
Smith was then shot through the mouth and Buchanan in the back of her head. They died on the spot.
On Thursday, Smith’s widow Lynette* had sobbed as she came face to face with Schroder in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, so the news that he and Mundel’s bail wish had been granted would have been devastating.
Granting bail in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, magistrate Paul du Plessis said Schroder and Mundel were not flight risks, while there was minimal risk that they would interfere with witnesses. While he acknowledged that the murders had been one of “the most violent crimes” and that the case was “extremely serious”, Du Plessis said “justice was not done on emotions but on the confines of the law…”
He questioned the credibility of the witness who had blown the whistle in December, despite the murders being committed five years ago.
“(The question) is when, how and why these (allegations) were made and if it could lead to (a successful prosecution). The credibility of that witness must be regarded as suspect and, at worse, described as untruthful…”
He added: “There were elements (about the crime) that she didn’t know. There are elements within the police force who knew. Whether the State’s case is going to be credible is not clear. This court doesn’t believe that a (successful conviction) can be done.”
Du Plessis, however, fixed tough bail conditions “to monitor” Schroder and Mundel. He ordered them to report to their respective nearest police station from Monday to Saturday.
Schroder stood up when Du Plessis asked what the distance between the applicants’ home and the nearest police station was. “Fifteen kilometres,” he said.
*Not her real name