Pretoria - The killer of the young South African 'Matwetwe' actor, Sibusiso Khwinana, who was stabbed to death outside Sterland on the corner of Steve Biko and Pretorius Street three years ago, in a sudden turn of events fired his lawyer today, minutes before sentencing proceedings were due to start.
Julius Lucas, the Tanzanian national convicted of murder, was adamant he no longer wanted his State appointed defence advocate as he was not happy with his service.
Lucas, who was at length told that this could delay the finalisation of his trial by a year, was adamant as he wanted to “satisfy his heart.” He said he was wrongly convicted as he is not the killer.
Gauteng High Court, Pretoria Judge Portia Phahlane was ready to hear arguments in mitigation of sentence yesterday, when Lucas announced that he no longer wanted his Legal Aid South Africa appointed lawyer and refused to give him any instructions on how to proceed with mitigation.
Lucas was convicted of murder and robbery in February after the court accepted the evidence of three eye witnesses that he was the man who had stabbed Khwinana outside the movie theatre complex that night and robbed him of his cellphone.
Lucas for the first time today made it clear that he was unhappy with his guilty verdict and that he will not accept it.
His lawyer told the court that he had explained in length to Lucas that he could appeal his verdict and that nothing he did at this stage, before sentencing, could change the verdict.
Judge Phahlane went to great lengths to explain to Lucas that he had a right to later appeal and that any lawyer who now took over, would proceed from where the trial is now - by presenting mitigating factors to the court regarding sentence.
But Lucas would have nothing of it, he was adamant that had to “satisfy his heart” with another lawyer.
This was the position even though the judge explained that the criminal court roll is so congested, that he may only get another hearing next year.
The judge also explained to him that as he cannot pay for his own lawyer, he was not in a position to pick and choose who he wanted to represent him.
Legal Aid South Africa in the end gave Lucas until May 3 to put in writing exactly what his gripe is with the state appointed lawyer.
Lucas also meanwhile bitterly complained about the presence of the media in court. This, after he endured the media up until now. The judge, however, explained that the media had a right to be there, as the court is open to the public. She also explained that the media has a right to report on this matter and there was nothing he could do about it.