The SCA has set aside a murder conviction and sentence imposed on Lefu Jantjie Bakane‚ because of the unlawful manner in which a confession was obtained from him. A TimesLIVE report notes Bakane and three other men were found guilty in 2009 of the murder of Johannes Albertus Maré.

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) sentenced Bakane to life imprisonment for the murder. However, the defence claimed that the police invented the contents of a statement and forced Bakane to sign it without explaining the contents thereof. Bakane and his co-accused appealed their conviction and sentence before a full Bench of the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria).

In 2015‚ two judges dismissed their appeal‚ but another judge found that the confessions should have been excluded in the first place‚ when the trial court found that the appellants were assaulted. Bakane applied for special leave to appeal to the SCA.

In its judgment‚ the SCA said that in convicting Bakane‚ the trial court accepted the admissions to be true‚ and rejected Bakane’s explanation of where he was when the murder was committed. ‘Thus the main issue on appeal is whether it was correct for the trial court to have admitted into evidence the appellant’s statement‚ and to convict the appellant on it‚’

Judge Baratang Mocumie said. She said it appeared Bakane was hoodwinked into making a statement which he consciously did not want to make. She said breaches of a number of constitutional rights in this case – rights which were supposed to be common knowledge in the police force since the advent of our democracy – were still happening. She added: ‘It is more important now than ever‚ taking into account the violent history of our country‚ for trial courts to be more vigilant (in upholding) the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights‚ at the risk of abomination from society.’

Full TimesLIVE report

Bakane v State