The murder trial of an alleged killer of footballer and tavern owner Alfred Lejone Helepi resumed on Monday (16/10) in the Bloemfontein High Court.
Judge PE Moletsoane had rescheduled the hearing on Thursday (12/10) after the lone accused, Ntsane Togowe (37), had been declared unfit to stand trial.
The attorney representing the accused, Lawrence Tshabalala of Legal Aid South Africa, submitted a medical certificate declaring Togowe too ill to appear in court.
Drama unfolded during the submission of the medical certificate by Tshabalala, who interpreted the content of the sick note saying: â€œDue to the severity of illness the accused is unable to come to work today.â€?
In light of this misÂinterpretation, Judge MoleÂtsoane asked Tshabalala if his client, Togowe, was to work or sit in the High Court room during the hearing of the murder trial with witnesses testifying. Tshabalala had to correctly rephrase the content of the medical certificate after being corrected by Judge Moletsoane.
The no-nonsense judge further stressed that a warrant to arrest Togowe would be authorised, should the accused fail to appear in court this week, starting Monday, in order for the court to proceed with the trial.
The deceased, affectionately known as Chencha, had played for Moroka Swallows during his heyday.
The postponement due to the severity of Togoweâ€™s illness is another puzzle in Helepiâ€™s mind-boggling murder case, which has been fraught with controversy.
The episode saw the state even releasing co-accused Andile Banzini Gxamza despite the fact that he had been listed as wanted and that a warrant of arrest had been issued in 2012 after he had failed to appear in court in Port Elizabeth.
A warrant had reportedly been issued in 2012 to arrest Gxamza to stand trial for theft and housebreaking in Port Elizabeth.
The case reached the stage it is in now after Togowe handed himself over to the police in Bloemfontein earlier this year and appeared in court alone, with his Âco-accused still at large after being freed in November last year.
Togowe, who resides in Bloemfontein, was granted conditional bail of R1 000.
The four co-accused still missing are Lesotho nationals Lira Morienyane (32), NthabiÂseng Clementina Lempe (32) and Alice Majake (27), as well as Gxamza (33). They have not yet been recaptured since their apparent wrongful release on 11 November last year. Captain Sâ€™fiso Nyakane, spokesperson of the Hawks, said they were still hunting the four accused.
Togowe faces similar charges as his co-accused: housebreaking with the intent to commit a crime, robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder. Togowe and his alleged accomplices were arrested between 30 March and 1 April last year after the murder on 29 March.
The armed assailants reportedly shot Helepi three times, looted the house and fled the scene with a vehicle.
Helepiâ€™s murder has become a puzzling matter and has caused public outrage due to the bungle which saw the five suspects released. The bungle was due to the appointment of two state presiding officers who were reportedly unfamiliar with the details of Helepiâ€™s murder case.
Puzzling aspects include the case being struck of the roll by the Bloemfontein Regional Court and then reinstated after postponement. The suspects were also released and then later a warrant for their arrest was reissued.