Bail was granted to two of the accused in the rape and murder case of Cape Town teen Franziska Blöchliger by the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
In the afternoon sitting at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court, Magistrate Hafiza Mohamed said exceptional circumstances – which are required in bail applications related to Schedule Six offences – existed due to the State’s weak case against the two accused in the Tokai Forest murder case.
Accused number two and four – who cannot legally be named – were allegedly in possession of Blöchliger’s stolen iPhone and the State had brought the murder charge against them on this finding.
According to Mohamed, this circumstantial evidence was not strong enough.
For this reason, along with neither being flight risks or never having evaded trial, accused number two was granted R2 000 bail and accused four bail of R1 000.
Their bail conditions were that they were not to make contact with any State witnesses and they would have to sign in at the Kirstenhof police station every day.
Accused one and three were remanded. Both had abandoned their bail bids earlier in the process. Accused one had already been linked to the murder, rape, and robbery of Blöchliger while accused number three abandoned his bid for bail after it emerged that he had failed to appear in court on a separate, prior matter.
Despite the ruling, Mohamed commented: “This crime is one of the most violent and heinous I have presided over in my time.”
She also stated prior to her ruling that she sympathised with the community and understood that they did not want to see the accused granted bail.
However, she said: “We should never lose sight that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.”
Upon the ruling, gasps were heard in the courtroom, occupied by mainly women from Westlake, Kirstenhof, and Tokai. All dressed in pink “Justice for Franziska” t-shirts, these women, and some male peers, attended in solidarity with the Blöchliger family and affected communities.
Outside, one of the supporters, who chose not to be named, said she was “enraged and outraged” at the ruling.
“I am absolutely sickened and disgusted to my core. I hope that judge (sic) sleeps well at night,” she said.
Another Tokai resident Alan Watkins said the ruling served as a sad indictment of the country’s justice system. He added that the bail amounts were shocking and pathetic.
Fellow Tokai resident Anne Hutchings added: “Our whole approach and our way to life has been changed by what has happened.”
She said the community no longer felt safe to move freely in their area and that the community was still reeling from the murder.
“These young men have taken that away from us,” said Hutchings.
The 16-year-old Blöchliger was found dead in Tokai Forest on March 7, 200 metres from the spot her mother and her had agreed to meet at following Blöchliger’s run at the popular recreation spot. She was robbed, strangled, suffocated, raped and murdered.
The accused are set to return to court on June 10.[Source: African News Agency]