#PrellerSquareShooting: Trial delayed by tech glitches, new docs

Technological glitches and a stack of documents took centre stage on what was supposed to be the first day of crime analyst Karin Jacobs’ testimony in the long-awaited trial into the murder of Bloemfontein businessman Louis Siemens.

What instead transpired, was a back and forth blame game in the Free State High Court today between the state and the defence, with the latter – notably accused number one, Stanley Bakili’s attorney, Masilo Koenane – requesting a postponement to gain access to video footage and a stack of documents, which include statements by a Mr Duncan Lechesa and legal adviser at the Free State Health Department, Justice Vinger.

It was revealed in court that the defence was given access to copies of video footage months ago, written onto more than 40 CDs, but in a comedy of errors, most of the accused’s legal counsels, apart from Dawie Reyneke, were unable to view the footage on their laptops and/or computers.

This footage is of meetings held at the Windmill Casino and at Preller Square Shopping Complex on the day Siemens was shot and killed. Prosecutor, Johan de Nysschen, did not oppose the request for the postponement but stressed he did not think the state was to blame for the postponement, seeing as the legal practitioners had ample time to obtain the software to enable them to watch the footage or bring an external drive/flash to download the footage. De Nysschen says “the state is compelled to provide information, not to spoon-feed the defence”. Joseph Kgoelenya, representing Kagiso Chabane, did not agree, accusing the state of ambushing the defence by not availing the additional documentation.

De Nyscchen estimates the additional documentation, which includes the above-mentioned statements by Lechesa and Vinger, comes down to about 140 pages, which mainly implicate Bakili. The news of the number of pages did not sit well with Koenane, who wanted the matter postponed by a week or two.

Judge Pitso Molitsoane granted the request for postponement, albeit for a mere three days, adjourning proceedings till Thursday, October 31.

Siemens was shot and killed in the basement parking lot of the Preller Square Shopping Complex on Thursday afternoon 10 May 2018. 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.