Mark Scott-Crossley, the Hoedspruit farmer sent to prison for life for assaulting and throwing a worker into a lion camp, will remain in jail pending the outcome of his appeal against his conviction and sentence.
Pretoria High Court Judge Jerry Shongwe yesterday denied Scott-Crossley bail, saying the case had attracted much publicity, and the court should preserve public safety.
The judge said he was not convinced Scott-Crossley’s conviction was demonstrably suspect, despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Appeal had granted him leave to appeal.
In his view there was an increased risk that the accused would abscond, as he had a life sentence and had not shown it would be in the interests of justice to release him on bail.
Scott-Crossley, 37, was in October last year sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of farm worker Nelson Chisale, who was severely assaulted before being thrown into a lion camp.
Evidence indicated he was still alive when thrown to the lions, but counsel for Scott-Crossley, Johan Englebrecht SC, yesterday argued the court should have accepted evidence that Chisale was dead when thrown into the lion camp.
Engelbrecht argued there had been numerous irregularities during his client’s trial, including police taking a further statement from a co-accused during the course of the trial.
Scott-Crossley’s accomplice, farm worker Simon Mathebula, 43, got 15 years’ imprisonment for his role in Chisale’s death. The case against Robert Mnisi was withdrawn after he became a State witness. A fourth man, Richard Mathebula, died before he could be tried.
Judge Shongwe said it was clear from the judgment Scott-Crossley had been the mastermind. The court had rejected his claim that he had found Chisale already dead.
Scott-Crossly’s brother Sean yesterday said he was disappointed at the “unexpected” ruling, and would take the matter further.
By Ilse de Lange The Citizen 05/09/06