The order, delivered on Monday morning, effectively sets aside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court ruling on the same matter.
OFM News reports that NPA Free State spokesperson, Phaladi Shuping, tells OFM News they respect Judge Celeste Reinders’ ruling on Pienaar’s appeal, and only hope the 51-year-old former farmer and businessman will respect and adhere to the bail conditions, as set out in Reinders’ judgment.
Senekal Magistrate Buti Mlangeni, last week, denied Pienaar bail due to his alleged interference in the investigation via engaging with witnesses, and his alleged assault on a female police officer.
In her judgment, Reinders finds that Pienaar’s legal team, led by Advocate Jacques Potgieter, succeeded in showing that Magistrate Mlangeni erred in not applying the presumption of innocent until proven guilty as enshrined in the Constitution. She ruled that the 51-year-old protester is not a flight risk as suggested by the state, adding further that prior to the denial of bail, there was an agreement by the respective parties that should bail be granted it would be at R15 000. Hence the bail amount granted by the Bloemfontein High Court Judge.
Potgieter and Pienaar’s family members could be seen celebrating the judgment, with the Advocate heard saying over the phone that they are extremely happy with the outcome.
Potgieter also argued in the appeal that there was no evidence that the female court personnel was attacked in the October 6 unrest, and that the Magistrate misdirected himself in the evaluation of where the interest of justice lies by considering unproven, unsubstantiated factual findings.
Pienaar is set to reappear in the Senekal Magistrate’s Court on 20 November.
Meanwhile, Pienaar’s alleged accomplice, a 33-year-old man arrested in connection with the same unrest that occurred on October 6, is appearing before the Senekal Magistrate’s Court today. The suspect is facing charges of public violence, arson, and malicious damage to property, among others.