Friends and family members of slain Mooinooi couple Anisha and Joey van Niekerk protest outside the Brits Magistrate's Court on January 15, during the appearance of eight people accused of the kidnapping and murder of the couple. PHOTO: Molaole Montsho/ANA

Brits - Eight people accused of the murder of a Mooinooi lesbian couple appeared briefly in the Brits Magistrate's Court on Monday before their case was postponed to 18 January, when their formal bail application will be heard.

Advocate Lawrence Pretorious, for one of the accused Mercia Witney van Rooi (21), had earlier asked the court give him time to consult his client.

"I was not aware that she is facing all the charges, I only know of the defeating the ends of justice," Pretorious told the court. Van Rooi was arrested on Sunday.

The state alleges that Aaron Sithole, 23, Koos Strydom, 53, Jack Mokotedi, 18, Alex Mudau, 36, Moses Rakubu, 33, Vincent Strydom, 29, Maruschka Opperman, 18 and  Van Rooi kidnapped, robbed and killed Joey van Niekerk, 32, and Gesina Sophia Anisha van Niekerk, 30, of Mooinooi.

The accused are facing two counts of murder, kidnapping, robbery, unlawful possession of firearm and defeating the course of justice. A charge of rape has since been added.  

The lesbian couple was reported missing on 10 December, after they left for a funeral in Pretoria but never arrived. Their car was found burnt out on December 16 in the Magaliesburg area.

Burnt bones believed to be those of the missing women were found in thickets near Mooinooi on 28 December. The bones were found along the R104 (old Pretoria-Rustenburg road) in Buffelsfontein.

Defence lawyer Ofentse Raikane, for Sithole and Mokotedi, asked the court that the postponement should be final. He said every time they appeared in court there was a new accused added to the charge sheet, which delayed his clients' bail application.

Lawyer Kgomotso Moagi, for Modau and Rakubu, also asked the court to mark the postponement as final. Pontsho Raikane, for Koos Strydom, Vincent Strydom and Opperman, also shared his colleagues' sentiments.

Magistrate Semakaleng Thamage said considering the history of the case there was no deliberate delay from the State.

"Previously, Mr Moagi was not ready, today Mr Pretorious is not ready," the magistrate explained. "The postponement is final. If there is any (more) accused arrested it means they will have to do their bail application separately." 

He added that some of the accused had been in custody since their arrest on December 14.

- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Moses Mudzwiti