Three Afrikaners in Prieska had unfair trial because of anti-Afrikaner judge Frans Kgomo - Supreme court of appeal
Bloemfontein, South Africa. - Sept. 18 2008 -- The Supreme Court of Appeal (on Thursday agreed with three Afrikaner men, Joseph le Grange, son Pieter and a friend Hendrik van der Westhuizen of Prieska, that they did not have a fair trial because of what was described by the court as 'the anti-Afrikaner, racially-prejudiced Northern Cape Judge-president Frans Kgomo. " The Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the court proceedings against the three men were 'invalid' and that the convictions and sentences imposed on them could not stand. The SCA also ruled that the men should be retried - but that this time, Northern Cape Judge President Frans Kgomo was not allowed to preside over the matter. Judge Nathan Ponnan said in the judgment that when 'taken cumulatively, I have no doubt that ... the learned judge-president was not fair and impartial during the trial'. The found that Kgomo ... “ showed a clear personal prejudice against the Afrikaner defendants.
The SCA upheld the appeal brought by Joseph le Grange, found guilty of murder by the prejudiced judge Kgomo, and his son Pieter and Van der Westhuizen, who were convicted of being accessories after the fact to murder. Kgomo had sentenced Le Grange senior to 24 years in prison, while the other two were sent to prison for six and five years respectively.
The matter relates to the death of a 13-year-old Prieska boy in March 2004. He had been stabbed with a sword hidden inside a walking stick.The boy, who died in hospital, was allegedly confronted by the Afrikaner men for stealing. The SCA 's appeal hearing - heard by a full bench -- did "not consider the merits of the murder itself, but focused solely on certain alleged irregularities in the course of the trial" . It held that the three Afrikaner men did not have a fair trial and that the proceedings before Judge Pres. Frans Kgomo were invalid.
The SCA set aside the convictions and sentences and remitted the matter to the Kimberley High Court, ordering that proceedings in respect of the same offence may again be instituted. They found that during the trial an application for Kgomo's recusal had been launched by these defendants - and had been refused. "He (Kgomo) sought, it would seem, from time to time to expedite the hearing of the matter by virtually taking over the prosecution from counsel for the State," the judgement read. However, the SCA found that in doing that it appeared that judge president Kgomo had 'at times overlooked the judge's usual role in a trial and had associated himself too closely with the conduct of the case. ' http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2395637,00.html