Vincenzo Pietropaolo was arrested in November, the same night he allegedly broke into his estranged wife Manuela’s Brackenhurst home and is believed to have shot her nine times.
Despite abandoning bail in November, allegedly after his three adult children submitted affidavits asking the court to deny him bail pending the trial, he relaunched the application last month.
While it was expected to continue this week, Pietropaolo’s defence lawyer, Sandile Buthelezi, instead launched an application to have magistrate Muhle Masango recuse himself.
First, the advocate argued the magistrate was already aware of the merits of the case due to media coverage of the matter. He then accused the magistrate of disliking him personally, citing a bad relationship in the past.
Masango pointed out that media coverage of the case did not indicate that a presiding officer would be biased.
He refuted Buthelezi’s second argument by mentioning other matters he had presided over where he had granted the lawyer’s clients bail.
However, Masango did agree to recuse himself, saying that Pietropaolo deserved the opportunity to appear before a different magistrate, and this shouldn’t hinder the course of justice as it was still early days in proceedings.
Bail application was set down in another court for next week.
Meanwhile, an online petition calling for the court to deny Pietropaolo bail has reached almost 1500 signatures. Mandy Woodhouse from Howick in KwaZulu-Natal wrote: “She did not deserve to die in such a brutal way. No bail should be granted.”
The Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation also announced last week it had joined in the call to deny bail.
Last month, the Saturday Star revealed that while Pietropaolo was charged with his wife’s murder, he was also under investigation for possible links to the murder of his own father, Pasqualino, who was killed in what police initially believed was a bungled house robbery last year.
However, a firearm linked to the crime scene had allegedly gone missing until it was allegedly found in Pietropaolo’s possession.