Anisha & Joey van Niekerk (Facebook)
The bail hearing for the suspects accused of murdering married lesbian couple Anisha and Joey van Niekerk has only deepened the mystery around their killing.
After a final suspect, a woman, was arrested on Sunday, a total of eight people are now facing charges of murder, rape, kidnapping, robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and defeating the course of justice.
As the case involves recently added rape charges, the suspects can no longer be named until they enter a plea. Three of the suspects have accused the police of severely assaulting them.
The couple, from the town of Mooinooi in North West, had been married for three years. They went missing on 10 December when they were expected to drive to Pretoria for a funeral.
They never arrived and police found their burnt vehicle on 16 December. The burnt remains of two unidentified bodies were later discovered separately on 28 December. The results of DNA tests to confirm the identity of the remains are still pending.
There are claims that the women were hung up in a shipping container, tortured for hours and killed, after which their bodies were set on fire. It’s also been alleged that they were murdered over a dispute about the sale of their property to one of the accused.
The suspects appeared in the Brits Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and Friday in a bid to be released on bail. The chief suspect and alleged mastermind, a panel beater who rents a workshop on the women’s land, testified in court in support of his bail application, reports Maroela Media.
The man denied knowing the whereabouts of the women, whom he described as “good friends”.
When asked by the magistrate if he was aware that police had discovered bones in a fire pit on his property, he said that the fire pit had been used to burn the remains of three horses that had been poisoned.
The 52-year-old man insisted that he would stick to the bail conditions, if bail was granted, and said that he needed to return home so that he could ensure that his children go to school.
Another suspect, reported to be the man’s employee, has been implicated in the murder of another women in 2004, for which he is set to stand trial separately.
The hearing was adjourned and the suspects will remain in custody. The matter will return to court next Thursday.