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The GRIQUATOWN Children’s Court has granted bail of R5 000 to a 16-year-old boy arrested in connection with the murder of a farming family.
Magistrate Oswald Mazwi said that after considering all relevant evidence placed before the court, it would be in the interests of justice for the child to be released on bail.
He said the child was not a flight risk, was receiving schooling, and would not interfere with witnesses.
It also appeared that the boy would not be a threat to any other person.
Mazwi said the State had a prima facie case against the boy, but his continued detention pending the trial was not warranted.
After the ruling, the boy was hugged by relatives and friends attending proceedings. The teenager was arrested after the murder of Northern Cape farmer Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christelle, 43, and daughter Marthella, 14, who were shot on their farm, Naauwhoek, on April 6.
At the last court appearance, Willem Coetzee, for the boy, told the court the State had no direct evidence to link the boy to the murder.
Bail conditions for the boy include that he be released into his guardian’s care and that he attend his trial in the Kimberley High Court when it begins.
He must also attend school and the investigator must be informed of any change of address.
Delivering judgment, Mazwi said the provisions of the Child Justice Act (CJA) should supersede those of the Criminal Procedure Act otherwise the objectives of the CJA would be rendered futile.
He said a valid argument could be made that the CJA was a call for a mind shift or transformation by all those privileged to be practising law in whatever capacity.
Mazwi said those in law had to put in extra effort in the development of criminal justice jurisprudence for children, separate from adults, not just in fancy words not benefiting children, but by real effort in understanding the individual child before a court.
He said it would be obvious that in the majority of instances the court’s rulings might be unpopular, but this should not deter the courts from striving to achieve the CJA’s objectives.
Northern Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Phaladi Shuping said no decision had been taken to appeal against the bail ruling. The prosecutor would discuss the bail ruling with the director of public prosecutions and then a decision would be taken on a possible appeal application. – Sapa