Andre Pienaar granted bail by High Court in Senekal public violence case

Andre Pienaar escalated his bid last week after the Senekal Magistrates Court denied him bail.

FILE: A police vehicle set alight by angry farmers outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court on 6 October 2020. Picture: @crimeairnetwork/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The man accused of public violence during this month’s protests by farmers in the Free State on Monday morning was granted bail in the Free State High Court.

Andre Pienaar escalated his bid last week after the Senekal Magistrate's Court denied him bail.

Pienaar is accused of firing gunshots in the Senekal Magistrate's Court, setting a police van alight, and inciting a group of farmers to commit violence.

A second suspect was arrested for his alleged involvement in the damaging of property in the Free State town of Senekal is expected to appear in court on Monday.

The police confirmed on Friday night that a 33-year-old was charged with attempted murder, public violence, arson, and malicious damage to property.

A group of farmers damaged state property and set a police van alight last week while demanding authorities hand over the two suspects arrested for the murder of 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner in Paul Roux earlier this month. Fifty-one-year-old Pienaar was among the protesters who set a police van and parts of the local court on fire.

Horner’s body was found hanging from a pole earlier this month on a farm in Paul Roux where he worked. Sekola Matlaletsa and Sekwetje Mahlamba applied for bail last week after they were charged with Horner’s killing.

Lawyers for Pienaar last week argued that as a person who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he should take specific medication that needed to be monitored regularly. They also said his medication would need to be adapted constantly to ensure that his mental state remained steady.

But Magistrate Buti Mlangeni said Pienaar’s medical condition, which appeared to be unpredictable, indicated that no bail conditions would successfully prevent him from committing other offenses that may disturb the peace.

He also pointed out how Pienaar’s lawyers said they could seek to have him referred to a psychiatric institution for mental assessment, saying this indicated that Pienaar could not be controlled by any means.

Pienaar’s lawyers said the court was wrong to say it is not in the interests of justice to release their client and as a result, they petitioned the Bloemfontein High Court.

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