Gobabis racial discrimination trial on

GOBABIS: The trial of the racial discrimination and assault case in which a Gobabis entrepreneur was allegedly attacked when he entered a ‘whites-only’ bar, got underway in the Gobabis Regional Court Monday.

The matter emanates from a 01 June 2013 incident, in which 30-year-old Levi Katire and friends were allegedly first denied entry to the Buffalo’s Bar in Gobabis, before he was attacked, on grounds that the bar is reserved for white people only.

Niko Kotze, 38, and Frederick du Plessis, 28, are the two accused in the matter.

The case has since been transferred to the Regional Court at Gobabis from the Magistrate’s Court on advice of the Prosecutor General (PG).

Monday’s proceedings centred around the legality of Buffalo’s Bar as a ‘members only’ recreational club, with the state disputing this fact.

The defence in the matter has been relying on the fact that the establishment was registered as a private bar that is only accessible to paid-up members. As such, defence argued that Katire and his friends had no business at the bar on the night of the attack.

The state however asserts that Kotze submitted a false list of names to the liquor licensing body, which he claimed were members of Buffalo’s Bar.

According to the state, many of those on the list never provided consent to be members of the recreational facility, nor did they give permission to Kotze to use their names on the list of members submitted to the licensing committee.

State Prosecutor Ed Marondedze on Monday called various witnesses to the stand, whose names were allegedly on the list of Buffalo’s Bar members.

Although all witnesses confirmed that they are not paid up members of Buffalo’s Bar and never gave Kotze permission to use their names, some indicated that they could have given Kotze verbal consent of their membership to the allegedly exclusive bar.

Their testimonies in the matter appeared to crumble under pressure from the defence counsel, Advocate Louis Botes, during cross-examination, mainly on technicalities that appear to cause contradictions in their testimonies.

Government in 2014 added various charges, ranging from fraud to contravention of the Racial Discrimination Prohibition Act 26 of 1991 against accused Kotze, who now faces a total of seven counts, to the charge sheet during their last court appearance.

Du Plessis is charged with one count of attempted murder emanating from the alleged physical attack on Katire.

The charge was initially registered as assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm but was changed to attempted murder on the advice of the PG.

Botes is assisted by Gobabis Lawyer Bennie Venter, while Marondedze is assisted by Ingrid Husselman.

The matter is expected to continue Tuesday with more witnesses, including Katire, being called to the stand by the state.