The two men convicted in the so-called Coligny sunflower murder have been released on R20,000 bail each.
Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were each released on Friday morning in the Mmabatho High Court.
The two men were earlier convicted of the murder of teenager Matlhomola Moshoeu and were sentenced to 23 years and 18 years in prison respectively.
Lobby group AfriForum in March filed an application in the Mmabatho High Court for the duo to appeal the conviction, however, the application was denied.
AfriForum funded the appeal costs to allow advocate Barry Roux, senior counsel, to take on the case.
However, they were subsequently granted special leave to appeal directly to the appeal court in Bloemfontein against their conviction.
This after advocate Roux successfully petitioned the appeals court to get leave to appeal.
According to a statement issued by AfriForum on Friday, following the two being granted bail, Dooreward’s uncle Pieter Karsten said: “We are extremely relieved and grateful. There is no way that the darkness of a lie will overshadow the light of truth. We believe and we will continue to believe.”
AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said: “We know the men are innocent and they do not deserve to be in prison for a day longer. They have been in detention for 13 months and it is thirteen months too long. ”
Kriel said AfriForum would continue to pay the men’s legal costs for the appeal process.
AfriForum said it took the decision to fund Doorewaard and Schutte’s appeal after Bonakele Pakisi, the only witness in the murder case, admitted to four people that he had lied in court. He testified that he saw Doorewaard and Schutte kill the teen.
Roux argued during the bail application last week that the men should be released on bail as two judges of the appeals court indicated there was a reasonable chance the court could come to a different finding. He also said Pakisi’s testimony was not up to standard and that the men may be dismissed.
He argued that it was in the interest of justice that the men be released pending bail.
The Black First, Land First (BLF) movement has reacted to the news of the duo being granted bail.
In a statement, the movement said: “Afriforum is using the money it gets from stolen land and apartheid’s preferential labour practices to defend whites who murder blacks.”
The movement said it was no surprise that the two men were assisted by an “unashamedly racist” AfriForum.
“We wish to warn blacks about this racist outfit. Afriforum uses black people to legitimise itself so that it can do its apartheid work in peace. It has never assisted a victim of racism.
“BLF further notes how our courts seem to always jump when Afriforum says so. The courts are becoming another wing of Afrikanersdom.”
BLF and its leader Andile Mngxitima were dragged to the Equality Court sitting in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court by AfriForum for hate speech.
Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu / The Citizen