All the legal representatives for the five accused who are standing trial for the kidnapping and murder of Danielskuil DA councillor, Johannes Baatjies, and a family friend Jeffrey Nouse, on Tuesday withdrew their services, due to the non-payment of legal fees.

The accused have chosen to apply for State representation, although some were uncertain whether they would qualify as they were still receiving salaries.

The accused - Richard Hasane, Tshame Frank Baxane, Zonizelo Richard Magawu, Thompson Mncedisi Mphondomisa and Matthews Legodu - allegedly forced Baatjies into the boot of their car after luring them to a business meeting.

He was killed next to the road between Postmasburg and Danielskuil, a day before he was to be sworn in at the Kgatelopele Municipality in 2016.

Baatjies was shot several times in the head and body before his body was dragged for a few metres and then dumped in the veld.

Nouse, who was also shot several times, later died in hospital.

The legal representative for Baxane, Magawu and Mphondomisa, Advocate Rodger Kok, indicated that after holding lengthy discussions with his clients, they informed him that they were not ready to fund the legal costs.

“They advised me that they would try their utmost best to secure funds by the next postponement date. At this stage I cannot continue and will withdraw my services for all the accused.”

His instructing attorney, Larry Landon, added that he was also in the same position.

“I have no alternative but to withdraw. I will attempt to get the fees, but I am not sure whether this will happen. It would be best if legal aid is appointed at this point. The situation might change in the future.”

Legal representative for Hasane and Legodu, Leon Francis, also withdrew his services due to financial issues.

The accused informed the court that they wished for the case to be finalised and that they would attempt to source funds to continue with private attorneys.

Magawu and Legodu indicated that they would apply to Legal Aid South Africa, although they were not certain whether they would qualify.

Magawu pointed out that the accused were not entirely to blame for the delays.

“By June we were still receiving statements.”

He complained that they were expected to appear in court on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the time that family visits were scheduled in prison.

“We do not stay in Kimberley and our families travel from Kuruman and Danielskuil to visit us and bring us groceries, toiletries and special food as we suffer from diabetes. We are not allowed to collect our parcels if we are not there.


“After we have appeared (in court) we are taken to the holding cells where we have to wait for all the other prisoners to finish their cases, before we are transported back to correctional services. By that time it is after 2pm and visiting hours are over.”

Legodu added that visiting hours was only between 15 and 20 minutes long.

“We appeal to the court to allow us to receive our parcels at court.”

Senior state advocate, Hannes Cloete, highlighted the need to proceed with the matter on the scheduled dates, which were set from May 14 until June 22.

“The community in the Northern Cape and Danielskuil as well as the families of the deceased have a right to obtain some sense of closure. Further delays will prejudice witnesses as well as a witness who has been placed in a witness protection programme. We need to bring this matter to finality. This matter started a year ago and we are not a single step further than where we started.”

He explained that it was not unusual for statements to be brought to the fore, after an investigation was completed.

“The statements that Magawu is referring to were made available in June 2017. They originated as a result of accusations made by him.”

Cloete indicated that three of the accused intended to apply for a new bail application “based on new facts”.

Acting Northern Cape High Court Judge Sharon Erasmus postponed the matter until tomorrow to allow Legal Aid South Africa to assess who would be eligible for assistance.

“The attorneys will have to advise if there are any possible conflicts of interest.

“It will be necessary to consider the broader interests of the co-accused, the community at large and the family of the deceased.

“I would like to offer the accused the opportunity until March 20 to organise their finances and obtain clarity on whether they would want to continue with their existing legal teams.”

She also pointed out that the accused had been in custody since last year without any progress being made on the case.

“The state was ready to proceed last year while the accused have been in custody, due to no fault of prosecution.”

She indicated that it would not be in the best interests of the accused to wait until the next court date to determine if they had available funds for their legal costs.