Dewani-style plot alleged

SUNDAY TIMES

Reporter – Shanaaz Eggington

BUT LEADING POPULATION ANALYST DENIES TRYING TO HIRE A HIT MAN

A man has been nabbed for allegedly trying to hire a hit man at Cape Town International Airport to murder his estranged wife. Johan Calitz, 64, has been charged with conspiracy to murder after he was arrested in a sting oepration. The case bears a chilling resemblance to that of honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani, who is alleged to have hired a taxi driver at the same airport in November last year to have his bride, Anni, murdered. Calitz, from Pretoria, was until recently a senior demographics analyst at the Development Bank of South Africa. He carried out population studies for the Presidency and researched the impact of HIV/Aids. Calits was arrested at the airport after allegedly handling cash to an undercover officer posing as a contract killer. His wife, Sarah, 60, lived in the couple’s R6-million family home in Stilbaai in the Southern Cape. The couple have been married for 36 years. Western Cape police spokesman Warrant Officer November Filander said police pounced on May 13 after receiving information that Calitz wanted to hire a hit man. “An early-morning meeting was arranged between the suspect and an undercover policeman at the airport. Members of air border control arrested the suspect on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder,” he said. He refused to say how sting operation came about. But the Sunday Times established that he allegedly wanted his wife tortured with a stun gun before she was killed. Police pounced after being tipped-off about the alleged plot. Calitz, speaking from his Pretoria home, dismissed the police allegations. “There has been a big misunderstanding,” he said. “I am innocent. The police handled the case very badly. I’m going to be claiming lots of money from them.” He referred further questions to his Cape Town attorney, Joshua Greef, who confirmed that his client had been charged. “I cannot say much, as the case is still under investigation and we don’t have access to the docket at this stage,” he said. UK paper The Mirror splashed news of the arrest of Calitz this week, pointing out the parallels with the Dewani case. Calitz appeared in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on May 16 after spending the weekend behind bars. He was granted bail of R5000, but police rearrested him almost immediately after obtaining another arrest warrant. Said Greef: “It was then decided to bring an urgent application to the Cape High Court, as bail is a right of any person who qualifies for it.” Calitz was released on bail again on condition that he stayed away from Stilbaai and did not make contact with his wife. Filander confirmed that Sarah Calitz had recently filed for divorce. “These documents were delivered to Calitz the week before the arrest,” he said. Sarah Calitz said this week she wanted “nothing to do with the matter” and referred queries to her legal representatives. They did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. According to Calitz’s affidavit, presented to the High Court in support of his bail application, the house in Stilbaai is registered in his wife’s name, but belongs to him. He said the contents of the home, including furniture, were worth at least R1.5million and he owned two Mercedes-Benz vehicles. He intends pleading not guilty to charges against him, which he described as “frivolous”. Calitz has done work for the Human Sciences Research Council, the Department of Social Development and various political parties, including the ANC and ACDP. The case was postponed to July 13. Dewani’s extradition hearing resumes on July 18 in London.