By Anna Shilongo
Judge-President Petrus Damaseb yesterday advised three of the four suspects who stand accused of killing eight people at Kareeboomvloer farm on 4 March 2005 to opt for individual legal representatives.
Damaseb said it was not appropriate for the three accused to be represented by one lawyer, especially if they have to testify against each other.
“You are facing a very serious case. I don’t want to put pressure on you. My duty is for you to understand your rights,” he said.
The three suspects are Sylvester Beukes (23) Gavin Beukes (26), and Stoney Raymond Niedel (30). They are all represented by Winnie Christians while Justus Christiaan “Shorty” Erasmus is being represented by Louis Botes.
Justice Damaseb explained to the three accused why it is not possible for the three to be represented by one defence counsel and the dangers they might encounter when represented by one lawyer, but the three accused refused to opt for individual representatives and decided to continue with a single lawyer.
“Are you sure of your decision? Changing lawyers will not cost you a cent. The State will pay, you have a right to choose a lawyer of your choice. Government will provide lawyers for you,” explained Damaseb.
Meanwhile, one of the investigating officers, Willem Dax, who claimed to have a “trust relationship” with Sylvester Beukes told the court that Beukes was not happy with the way Christians defended him.
In his testimony, Dax told the court that the accused had already written a letter to the Legal Assistance Centre requesting another defence counsel and shortly after the letter his current defence counsel Christians approached him not to fire him.
“Beukes told me on Monday that he was unhappy and that accused number three had said a lot of incriminating things against him that are not true,” he testified.
But Christians who is accused of not being fair when representing Beukes denied the allegations.
He cross-questioned the officer and accused the officer of persuading Beukes to fire him.
“Is it true that you told my client that I will withdraw from their case at a later stage, and if you had a trustful relationship with my client don’t you think you betrayed his trust?”
However, the investigation officer denied all allegations by the defence counsel.
The trial continues.