Two Pretoria men accused of racial attack released on bail

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court has granted Karel David Prinsloo and Johannes Nicholas Stassen bail of R8 000 each. They allegedly attacked 30-year-old Thato Lepinka at the Willow Way Shopping Complex parking lot in Garsfontein in December last year.  The duo has been in custody for three weeks.

Karel David Prinsloo and Johannes Nicholas Stassen breathed a sigh of relief as they were granted bail.  That’s despite the state strongly opposing their release.

The duo faces charges of malicious damage to property, crimen injuria and assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

They’re accused of assaulting Lepinka in what’s suspected to have been a racial attack at a Pretoria East Shopping Centre.

The Investigating Officer testified that the men are members of a notorious biker gang that terrorises residents and that there was an indication of evidence tampering.

However, the magistrate presiding over the matter decided that there was insufficient evidence to back up those claims.

While delivering the bail verdict at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, Magistrate Abel Mphahlele said, “All incidents I’ve referred to, including the alleged deletion of images from the video footage at the shopping. Complex occurred while you were in custody, the deletion was done by somebody else and not anyone of you and, there is no indication that the person who deleted the images of the incident of the video footage was acting on your instructions.”

The defense lawyer argued that the incident had nothing to do with race.

“As a nation of South Africa, we believe that whenever the two people Black and White are fighting or vice versa that automatically its racism which is very bad, and the law took its course,” says Defense Counsel, Lucky Sekhukhune.

But this view did not go down well with the family of the man they allegedly assaulted.

Khutso Semetjane, the Lepinka Family Spokesperson says, “There are people that are afraid to testify when they are behind bars now he’s releasing these two to go and harass those people who are already afraid so it does not augur well for justice. The President has already spoken against racism but it’s clear that the judiciary is not willing to come on board to help the country to fight the scourge of racism.”

The magistrate warned Prinsloo and Stassen not to tamper with evidence or witnesses.

He said that if they evaded trial, he would not hesitate to get them locked up. They’re expected back in court on the 11th of January.