Bloodied clothing from sheep slaughter: Senekal suspects in court (video)

Throngs of EFF members moved into Senekal in the Free State on Friday morning. Picture: Jacques Nellis

The small town of Senekal has taken centre stage in the debate around farm murders and crime as the two suspects accused of murdering Brendin Horner apply for bail in the local magistrate’s court today.

This is a developing story – scroll down the page for the latest news.

Suspects to plead ‘not guilty’ – 1.25pm

Isaiah Mahlamba, 32, (right) and and co-accused Sekola Piet Matlaletsa, 44, (left) appeared in the Senekal Magistrates Court on Friday to formally apply for bail. They are accused of murdering Brendin Horner. Picture: Marizka Coetzer

Both of the suspected killers of Horner have indicated they will be pleading not guilty during the formal bail application.

Isaiah Mahlamba, 32, and and co-accused Sekola Piet Matlaletsa, 44, appeared in the Senekal Magistrates Court on Friday to formally apply for bail.

During questioning in court, Mahlamba denied knowing Horner and also denied any involvement with the murder.

He claimed that the blood soiled clothes confiscated at his house last week was because he had slaughtered a sheep in a traditional ceremony at the end of September.

He further denied knowledge about a pair of bloody trousers found hidden inside an old chest freezer.

Mahlamba claimed he was with his girlfriend at the time of the murder.

Matlaletsa exercised his right to remain silent and submitted an affidavit.

Both the accused indicated they can only afford to pay R500 bail.

The two suspects both live in Paul Roux, apparently merely a street apart.

The bail application proceedings are still under way.

Court has been adjourned for lunch.

‘It’s not a black and white thing’ – Horner family

It was not a fight between black and white but rather between criminals and law-abiding citizens and the slain farm manager Brendin Horner would not have approved of the conflict happening in his community, said his family.

Despite the murder sparking racial tensions in the community, this did not reflect the reality in the area, said Horner’s family spokesperson Gilly Scheepers. Click here to read more.

‘Case too sensitive’ for live broadcast – 10.30am

State advocate in the farm murder case of Brendin Horner said the Senekal investigation and case is too sensitive to be filmed live by the media.

Media representatives and journalists have been waiting outside of the Senekal Magistrates Court since around 7am on Friday.

The state prosecutor in the case against two suspects accused of murdering Horner, has opposed the media application to film proceedings and broadcast it live, and said the case is at a sensitive stage.

He further requested that his name or face as the state prosecutor not be shown.

Meanwhile, the defence did not oppose to proceedings being filmed or broadcast live.

The state prosecutor said the investigation is complex and explained some applicants will testify and have to be cross-examined.

He said that means certain information must be disclosed that should not be public knowledge.

Magistrate Buti Mlangeni said those in attendance could spread the word.

The state prosecutor further said he doesn’t want people to read that sensitive information in the media.

The defence lawyer concluded that there have been more complex matters heard openly.

Also Read: Violent scenes as rocks thrown at bikers trying to leave town

EFF, farmers clash – 10.20am

Farmers and EFF members briefly clashed in Senekal as tensions run high ahead of the court appearance of the two suspects in the Horner murder case but police managed to split the different factions.

Julius Malema arrives at court – 10am

The Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader Julius Malema has arrived at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court at around 10am.

Malema first addressed EFF members in the street where they have been allowed to protest before making his way to the court alongside EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini and EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu.

Journalists are still waiting outside of the court to hear if the application to cover the case will be granted.

Police visibility remains high.

Bheki Cele arrives at court – 9.40am

There remains a heavy police presence at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court as Police Minister Bheki Cele arrives.

A cordoned off court saw the arrival of Cele as a group of journalists still wait to be let into the building where two suspects were expected to appear today. Journalists are currently being briefed.

Also read: Senekal: Malema instructs EFF supporters to ‘march into town’

Tensions high – 7am

Tensions are high and police visibility even higher as thousands of protesters from various organisations and political groups take to the streets of Senekal in the Free State on Friday morning.

The protests follow the death of farm manager, Brendin Horner, 22, who was brutally murdered. Two suspects, Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba, 32, and Sekola Piet Matlaletsa, 44, arrested in connection with his death were expected to appear in the Senekal Magistrate’s Court today.

During their first court appearance on Tuesday last week, a protest by farmers and farming organisations turned violent as some members tried to storm the holding cells in order to gain access to the accused. A police vehicle was also overturned and burned, while the court building was damaged.

This morning, all roads leading to Senekal were blocked off with police searching every vehicle entering the town.

In town, curious and nervous residents stood grouped on the street corners and peered out of their balconies to get a glimpse of the protests currently taking place in the streets.

ALSO READ: Calm before the storm? Senekal prepares for conflict

Around the Senekal Magistrate’s Court, police have closed off streets before Horner’s murder accused make their second court appearance.

Economic Freedom Fighters members started protesting in the street allocated to them from before 7am, singing various struggle songs and blowing on whistles as the sea of red moved up and down the street.

By this time the first police helicopter started circling the area.

Strict measures were being implemented at court with limited access being granted.

Protesters from the Unite Against Farm murders and attacks, AfriForum, as well as the ANC Youth League and the Institute of Race Relations were all expected outside the court.

This is a developing story.

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