Both of the accused pleaded not guilty, meaning a long road ahead, made even worse by court delays. In the 911 days from the arrest, bail applications and trial processes only represented 1.5% of this time, with there being only around 14 days of total court time. 897 days or 98.5% of the time was
Both of the accused pleaded not guilty, meaning a long road ahead, made even worse by court delays. In the 911 days from the arrest, bail applications and trial processes only represented 1.5% of this time, with there being only around 14 days of total court time.
897 days or 98.5% of the time was spent waiting for the victims’ voices to be heard, the deceased’s voice to be heard through the testimony of the Investigating Officer, and the National Prosecuting Authority and accused waiting to explain to the Judge why they were innocent.
The emotional cost and time wasted due to postponements and repeated court visits brought much grief, pain and anger to the surface, but eventually, after the process was managed by SAPS and community leaders, the nightmare was finally over!
The healing process started with justice being served, and the NPA, SAPS, all specialised divisions and our nation could walk tall and proud. The battle was won and the swords of justice could be lowered. The total time to conviction was 2 years, 6 months, 14 days – some 928 days from the incident to the day of conviction.
“I am extremely happy about this outcome,” reported Investigating Officer, Captain Attie Engelbrecht. “I am happy for the team and all the work that they have put into this investigation and I am happy for the family that we were able to catch these bastards. While it has taken some time, two and a half years later, in fact, the law has taken its course,” he added. “Justice still has teeth…” He concluded by saying that “We cannot bring back life, but we certainly hope that this will bring some closure for the family of the deceased.”
Possible parole applications can be considered in November 2028.
In this case, the victims and perpetrators did not know one another.
Questions that remain unanswered for the family and community is the “why” factor. Why did this happen? There was nothing that was on the warning radar and nor was there any kind of human relationship challenges or any broken trust concerns. This, coupled with all the evidence, pointed to a motive of pure greed, but this is not an answer that is easily accepted and therefore sadly prevents complete closure for the family.
Another line of thinking is that this was the work of a hit squad, but this is also difficult to understand and prove, as no clear motive or any reason for anyone to order a hit on a 77-year-old man was presented or the fact that the accused had any formal weapons or tactical training.
It is clear from the cycle of crime that the accused were on a path of self-destruction and had been arrested several times prior to the murder. The cycle of crime fits the average standard pattern and path of criminals going from petty crimes to murder, something which is not found in most other farm murders.
The gang of four was also extremely under-resourced with only one having a gun, and although there was evidence of basic planning to gain entry and lie in wait with the intention to commit a contact crime, there was a very poor execution of the plan and choice of timing. This is seen time and again in such cases of newly formed gangs in all sectors of policing.
Two suspects entered the home while the other two waited outside. No demands for money or guns were made but the initial overpowering of the victims and taking control went horribly wrong. The incident was over before it started, leaving Friedel dead from a single gunshot.
During the escape, a brief altercation took place followed by another single gunshot but this hit the victim’s leg, again showing the incompetence of the assailants, and highly unlikely it was for this to be a hit committed by a cold-hearted professional killer. There is clear evidence that the trigger man was not a trained hitman. He was not calm and calculated, nor could he unjam the gun.
The gang of four arrived on foot and the evidence pointed to them having run some 20 km after the attack, before being picked up. This indicates that they did not have a getaway plan, and that there was never any clear timelines and plans. This did also not come up during the testimonies presented to the investigators.
It is further noted that there was no attempt to insulate themselves from the investigation or any interference. The only chance left to get to the answers is the restorative justice program between the prisoners, victims and family. This takes time and it is still very early days.
*There are other elements to this matter that cannot be disclosed due to ongoing investigations.