A teenage witness and a gun at large – Court rules it is correct to keep Cape Town murder accused in custody

A Cape Town hardware salesman who allegedly shot and killed his former partner and injured their daughter, on Friday lost a bid to appeal a magistrate’s refusal to release him on bail.Western Cape High Court Judge Nolwazi Boqwana said in her judgment that Wayne Lawrence’s 16-year-old daughter was a key witness to events that day and could be influenced if he was not in custody.She was also concerned that one of Lawrence’s firearms remained at large, “more so because a firearm was allegedly used on the day of the incident”.Ricocheting bulletAngela Marinus was shot and killed while in her car in the driveway of her parents’ home in Montevideo in December 2017. A ricocheting bullet apparently struck her daughter in her foot. She had been in the passenger seat.Lawrence – Marinus’ ex-boyfriend and the teenager’s father – was arrested two days later.At the time of her death, Marinus had been seeing another man and had taken out a protection order against Lawrence. He had apparently used a gun on a previous occasion to threaten her new boyfriend in the presence of their child.A Bishop Lavis magistrate last year denied Lawrence bail, and the court’s findings included that he seemed to have a propensity for violence.He faces charges of murder and attempted murder, as well as charges relating to the Domestic Violence Act and Firearms Control Act.No riskHis attorney, William Booth, had previously told the High Court that Lawrence was not a risk to his daughter’s safety. He insisted that Lawrence, who had been behind bars for more than a year, had not once attempted to make contact with the teenager after Marinus’ murder.According to Booth, the domestic violence matter between the couple had been postponed for mediation and he indicated that they might have been trying to resolve matters.His client also suffered from depression and anxiety and was not supplied with his medication while awaiting trial at Goodwood prison, Booth submitted.Boqwana said in her judgment that there was no evidence that Marinus had invited Lawrence to her parents’ address on the day in question.Also read: Luke Skywalker appears in Cape Town court for attempted murder case”It can therefore not be suggested that the parties had now ‘buried the hatchet’ and that the appellant (Lawrence) was free to act against the terms of the (protection) order.”The judge pointed out that Lawrence’s daughter was a material witness for the State, whose case was said to be very reliant on her evidence.”She appears to be vulnerable, and in circumstances such as these there is a likelihood that the appellant may seek to influence and prevail upon her.”Lawrence was the holder of licences for two firearms.The court understood that when police searched Lawrence’s parents’ residence, they only found one firearm in the safe, and that the other was allegedly not reported stolen or lost.FirearmBoqwana said he had not given a “straight answer” as to the whereabouts of this firearm.”He does not provide a definite answer as to when he last saw his firearm and where it was when he last saw it, if it was lost why did he not report it? He cannot imply that the police might have taken it in his absence if he does not know where it was prior to the search,” she said.”It is an important factor to be taken into account that there is a firearm still at large.”She thus found that there was no misdirection on the part of the Bishop Lavis Magistrate’s Court in denying him bail.She dismissed his appeal.On his mental health, Boqwana said it was important that Lawrence be allowed to consult with the relevant medical practitioner and receive his medication regularly.She ordered that the prison authorities ensure that the issue of Lawrence’s depression was looked at and appropriately dealt with.
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