A teenager was acquitted of the murder of rightwing leader Eugene Terre'Blanche on Tuesday, but his co-accused was found guilty.
“There is no evidence forensically or physically linking (Patrick Ndlovu) to the murder of (Terre'Blanche),” Judge John Horn said in the High Court sitting in Ventersdorp.
He said blood spatters on the wall, the ceiling and the bed in the room where Terre'Blanche was killed showed Ndlovu could not have been present during the murder.
“To say that he intended to kill would not accord with the facts.”
Horn said he did not believe Ndlovu played an active role in the attack and that he was merely a passive bystander.
He was also found not guilty on the charge of attempted robbery, but was found guilty of house-breaking with the intent to steal.
His co-accused Chris Mahlangu was convicted on all three charges.
Mahlangu and Ndlovu were charged with hacking and beating Terre'Blanche to death on his North West farm in April 2010.
The sentencing hearing takes place on June 18.
Horn commended the police witnesses, who were criticised by the defence during their testimonies.
“It cannot be said that they deliberately set out to mislead the court or that the evidence was tainted.”
Horn said that investigators should learn there was no such thing as an open-and-shut case.
“All cases should receive appropriate attention. Police and investigators should not let their guard down because a case appears simple and straightforward and do so at their peril, as this case has no doubt proved.”
After the judgment, Andre Visagie who leads the AWB splinter group Gelofte Volk, said he was satisfied that the court had thoroughly considered all the evidence.
“The evidence does not prove that the minor can be found guilty of anything more than house-breaking.”
The Freedom Front Plus welcomed the judgment.
“It is however clear that shoddy police work has been to the advantage of the youth, who has also been involved in the case and this undermines jurisprudence in South Africa,” spokesman Pieter Groenewald said in a statement.
Claims that Terre'Blanche sodomised Mahlangu were rejected by Horn earlier on Tuesday.
“Sodomy is such a personal intrusion, I can't believe (Chris Mahlangu) would not have raised it immediately,” Horn said.
He asked why it was mentioned only towards the end of the trial, and also only through other witnesses.
Horn said Mahlangu saw the semen-like fluid on Terre'Blanche's genitals as an opportunity to use sodomy as a defence.
However, Horn said the notion that this had indeed been semen was never proven. The same applied to the origin of the fluid.
“I therefore reject any suggestion that (Mahlangu) was sodomised,” Horn said.
He rubbished Mahlangu's claim that he had acted in self-defence, and said there was no evidence that Terre'Blanche was killed because of his political views. The dispute was over wages.
“He was revered by some, but despised by others,” Horn said.
While Terre'Blanche was portrayed as arrogant and violent, neither of the two accused testified about this, or any claims of abuse.
“None of these things could justify the brutal attack on the deceased.”
Ndlovu's name was made public for the first time on Tuesday. His trial had been held in camera until now, but as he turned 18 in April he could be named.
Throughout the day, police and police vans lined the streets surrounding the court.
Heavily-armed officers separated rival groups in an attempt to keep the peace.
Brief tensions flared-up outside as supporters of Ndlovu and Mahlangu danced and sang “Viva, Mahlangu, Viva” and “Dubul' iBhunu (Shoot the Boer)”.
Some carried placards reading, “Down with the AWB”, “Thank you, Mahlangu”.
Another said, “Waar is jou onderbroek ET (Where are your underpants, ET?)”.
AWB members, clad in camouflage uniforms and sporting flags and banners, were also outside the court. Some of their banners read:
“AWB stood the test of time” and “Long live the AWB”. - Sapa