Gold bars weighing one kilogram each sit on a table in the vault of gold vendor ProAurum in Munich, Germany, on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. Gold advanced to an all-time high above $1,910 as investors sought to protect their wealth against financial turmoil amid speculation that the global economy is slowing. Photographer: Guenter Schiffmann/Bloomberg

The trial of 18 syndicate members accused of being involved in illegal gold activities in three provinces - said to be managed by four brothers - was postponed in the Bloemfontein High Court on Tuesday.

Judge Johann Daffue postponed the case to June 11 after one of the brothers, Sifelane, was apparently killed in a vehicle accident on Monday night.

The Msimango brothers, Sibusiso, 34, Sifelane, 44, Rise, 31, and McDonald, 28, face charges of racketeering, money laundering and theft.

The trial started on Monday, but Judge Daffue postponed the matter to Tuesday to give the State and defence counsel a final opportunity to settle some aspects outside of court.

The accused - who include the wives of some of the brothers - face a total of 103 charges and the State was expected to call 194


On Tuesday, State prosecutor Danie Pretorius told the court that negotiations with the defence counsel for the group failed.

Sifelane was reportedly was killed in a vehicle accident on Monday night, but Pretorius told the court the State did not yet have a death certificate.

Nevertheless, arrangements were being made for the remaining brothers to get their passports from the investigator for Sifelane's funeral in Zimbabwe.

Warrants of arrest were issued for Sifelane and his wife, also an accused. Sifelane's wife was not present at the court on Tuesday.

The warrants would be kept over until the next court appearance.

The State alleges the objectives of the syndicate were to procure, refine, sell and smuggle unwrought gold.

Proceeds, apparently running into millions of rand, were laundered into financial systems by means of buying vehicles, luxury items and property. - Sapa