#PrellerSquareShooting: Murder trial begins

The long-awaited five-week trial looking into the murder of Bloemfontein businessman, Louis Siemens, begins today in the Free State High Court.

Ten men were arrested between May 2018 and September 2019 for allegedly playing varying roles in the murder, from planning to the execution. However, only eight of those arrested stand in the dock before Judge President Cagney Musi today.

Siemens, the then Managing Director of CityMed, a day hospital in the Free State capital, was shot and killed in broad daylight on Thursday afternoon, 10 May 2018, in what appears to be an organised hit.

Siemens’ strained and ultimately fractured business relationship with accused number one and alleged mastermind, Stanley Bakili, forms the background of the state’s case. It is alleged the CityMed Managing Director had been paying off bribes through Bakili for hospital bed licenses when things turned south, leading to the murder.

The two men who were arrested but have since turned key state witnesses are the confessed assassin, Xolisile Mbebetho, and the last man arrested in this case, legal adviser at the Free State Health Department, Justice Vinger. The former of the two is already serving a more than 20-year sentence for the crime.

The men on trial for the murder are Stanley Bakili, Mogoera Molebatsi, Kagiso Chabane, Mojalefa Jali Molusi, Moeketsi Lesia, Karabo Tau, Sizwe Mpati and Clive Tshivenga. They are between the ages of 29 and 56 and include three police officers, a disbarred advocate, an accused in separate double murder cases, and a military man. The state is expected to present a list of over 50 people that will be called to testify during the trial.

Court proceedings were expected to get underway at 09:00 but appeared to be delayed, with officials and members of the accused’s families still making their way in at the time. There are some murmurs on the ground that there will be a request for a postponement. This is yet to be confirmed.