North West - The Corrie Sanders murder case has taken another turn following revelations that the fourth suspect has been sentenced to at least 30 years’ imprisonment in Zimbabwe for shooting a police officer.
The State is trying to extradite the suspect – who is believed to be in possession of the murder weapon – so that he can join his three co-accused, Paida Fish, 19, Chris Moyo, 25, and Samuel Mabena 27.
They are accused of the murder of the boxing legend in Brits last year.
Sanders was shot and killed in an armed robbery at a restaurant where he was celebrating his nephew’s 21st birthday.
The Brits Magistrate’s Court public gallery was packed on Friday as Sanders’s family members and supporters waited to hear the outcome of the proceedings.
Chief prosecutor advocate Matric Luphondo told the court the State believed the man would be able to help them locate the gun which was used to commit the crime.
Luphondo said the State had contacted the relevant authorities in Zimbabwe to start negotiations to get the man and the firearm to South Africa. He also told the court that the suspect had two other outstanding cases in Zimbabwe, to be heard next month.
Luphondo asked the magistrate to postpone the case to August to allow for the process to unfold. He promised that the State would keep the defence team updated on investi-gations.
“We arranged with authorities to get him here to face the charges with the three accused and get the murder weapon. The investigating officer has made arrangements to visit Zimbabwe in April. This is a process which can take some time before it gets resolved,” he said.
The case was postponed and the suspects remanded in custody.
Sanders’s brother Mike said he was disappointed that the matter had been postponed but was upbeat about the prospect of getting the fourth suspect and the murder weapon.
“There is nothing we can do about it (postponement), but if it is to better our case, it’s worth it,” he said.
Community members at the court said they were happy that the suspects would remain in custody and not terrorise the community. Oukasie resident Meshack Nong said that he felt bad about what happened to the boxing legend but was happy that the suspects remained in custody.
“It is sad that our South African champion is killed by our foreign brothers. We are supposed to build each other as a continent, but when such things happen, one loses hope.”
Bishop Johannes Ramodike said he attended every court sitting and was concerned about the high incidence of crime in Oukasie.
“I even had to stop the night services at church. Members of the congregation are robbed and killed by these kinds of people, and that is why I will not stop attending the proceedings,” said Ramodike.
Community member Miriam Sejake said she was relieved that the suspect believed to have the murder weapon was in jail in Zimbabwe.
“For as long as the main suspect is in jail in Zimbabwe, and the other suspects face cases of housebreaking and robbery, they will not be let out that easily. They should not even try to apply for bail,” said Sejake
Immediately after their appearance in the Sanders case, the suspects appeared again for other crimes.
Fish faces three counts of housebreaking and robbery. The matter is said to be ready for trial and was transferred to the regional court on May 8.
Mabena also faces a separate murder charge in an unrelated case.
It is alleged he and another accused were involved in the murder of a farmer, Marius Oberholzer, found dead on his farm near Brits on September 5. Their matter was postponed to August 2 pending the arrest of the man in jail in Zimbabwe, who is also said to be involved in the crime.