Ghostly shape of gun gives killer away



Reporter – Jeanne van der Merwe

SIMON Marais told police he found his dead mother, Anita, in a pool of blood after what appeared to be a botched robbery. But a twist in an investigation that seemed doomed to remain unsolved revealed that marais himself was the killer. Anita Marais, a mother of four who was in her 50′s, was shot in the chest five times and left bleeding to death in the bedroom of her Ruyterwacht home on November 8, 2000. There was no sign of the murder weapon. Marais told police that his fi-fi and CDs had been moved, suggesting an attempted robbery. But, six months later, Marais’s uncle accidentally unmasked him as the killer while trying to disconnect the battery in the boot of marais’s whie Mini. “A sports bag was lying on the battery. I saw an ice cream tub inside. I called my wife and told her there’s something wrong here,” Leon Barnard told the parow Regional Court. “There was cement in the ice cream tub and cracks in the shape of a revolver in the cement. “I called the police and Inspector Talmakkies [the investigating officer] said I must open it. “Chipping away the cement revealed the murder weapon, which was ballistically linked to the bullets in Anita Marais’s body. A sobbing Marais was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the crime this week after his attorney claimed the recently married murderer had been subjected to a lifetime of emotional abuse by the victim. In a statement that Marais, now 24, made after the gun was found, he said: “I shot my mother dead. There was an argument between us in the house. I took her firearm out of the cupboard at her bedside and shot her dead with it. I don’t know how many shots I fired.” After I shot her I went to the Elsies River Police Station and told them I found her at home, dead. I hid my mother’s firearm. “The court heard that Marais and his mother had been arguing because he did not have a job. During the trial, Marais’s attorney, Ben Mathewson, tried to stop court proceedings by claiming that Marais’s privacy had been invaded when Barnard took the gun from the bag in his boot. He also claimed Marais’s rights had not been adequately explained to him. Magistrate Marius Marais rejected the claims and convcted Marais of murder. In a plea of clemency, Mathewson argued that Marais had been the youngster of four children and that his mother had subjected him to a lifetime of emotional abuse. On Monday, Marais’s sister, also called Anita, testified that “nothing we did was ever good enough” and that their mother insulted them relentlessly. “My mother had a terrible temper. When she and my father were still married, she would break glass doors and then force us to go to the neighbours to phone the police to have my father arrested. “She stole money from my father’s butchery. She never had anything good to say to any of us,” she said while her brother stood sobbing in the dock. “We would never have dared to bring friends home.” One night Simon stayed out too late with one of his friends and my mother walked down the road screaming Simon was a ‘moffie’ and that he s*** in his pants. “But while the magistrate conceded that Marais had been provoked, he said the crime was shockingly serious”. “You shot your own mother dead. You shot her five times, and when one looks at the circumstances objectively, it was for a mere trifle – because she entered into an argument with you. You could have walked away. “If it weren’t for Mr Barnard, this crime would probably have remained unsolved,” Marais said.

Woman in court after hotel death of American


THE woman who allegedly murdered an American businessman at the Holiday Inn Hotel at the V&A Waterfront earlier this month, was tracked down and arrested after police linked her fingerprints at the scene to another case. Neziswa Khumalo, 34, of Parow was arrested at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court for the murder when she appeared charged with the possession of stolen property. paul Gillis, 36, was found dead at the Waterfront Holiday Inn on September 9. Traces of toxic substances were found in his blood during a post-mortem. The Schedule 5 substance, which cannot be named because the case is still sub judice, might have acted as a sedative resulting in his death. Gillis, a salesman for irrigation company Underhill International, was in Cape Town on a business trip. His body was found after he had missed business meetings and colleagues made inquiries. Hotel staff unlocked his room door and found his body in his bed. Police later discovered that his laptop, camera and credit cards were missing. They suspected a sex worker syndicate had been luring men to hotel rooms and stealing their possessions, after it was discovered that Gillis was the third victim of crimes of a similar pattern. Khaumalo was arrested on Friday and appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court yesterday, where the case was transferred to the regional court for a bail application. In court yesterday, the prosecutor Merle Engelbrecht told the court that Khumalo had one pending case involving the possession of stolen property. She said a date had been arranged for a bail application in the Cape Town Regional Court and added that the State would oppose bail. She said Khumalo faced charges of murder and robbery. In court Khumalo stood in the dock with her arms folded. She wore a blue tracksuit and green poloneck jersey and her hair had been styled in braids. Her attorney, Reaz Khan of Mathewson Gess Attorneys, confirmed the date of the bail hearing and said he did not wish to add anything. According to the charge sheet, the State alleges that Khumalo assaulted Gillis before robbing him, and then later murdered him at the Holiday Inn at the V&A Waterfront between September 7 and 9. On a page attached to the charge sheet, senior prosecutor David Jacobs said that he had considered the seriousness of the case as well as its media profile before directing it to the regional court for a bail application. Meanwhile, police are investigating the possibility that more than one person was involved. However, police spokeswoman Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said it was too soon to elaborate on the matter. The bail hearing is expected on October 8.

Sasha man appeals to see charge sheet


Reporter – Norman Joseph

POLICE  investigators probing the murder of Sasha-Leigh Crook, 8, declined to let the suspect’s attorney see the case docket, the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court has heard. When 25-year-old Mogamat Yusuf Isaacs appeared in court yesterday, his attorney, Keith Gess, told magistrate Wynand Marais that he would be making an urgent appeal to the State to see the charge sheet, its annexures and the police case docket. Isaacs is facing charges of kidnapping and murdering Sasha-Leigh two weeks ago. Gess, who replaced Legal Aid Board lawyer Bantu Nyembezi, said he would get information “from the State” to see whether the evidence against Isaacs was strong enough. “They did not allow us to have a look at teh case docket, which is vital for me,” Gess said. Yesterday the case was postponed to August 4. Gess told Marais: “On that date we will make a bail application.” At 0.05am yesterday the provincial police’s interventuion unit, headed by Superintendent Peter Woodman, slipped Isaacs into the court through a rear entrance gate at the court that is not often used by the police. A small crowd that gathered near the main entrance gate was not aware that Isaacs had arrived. Most of the people had gone inside Court 4 to find seats. Isaacs appeared in court, but then prosecutor Christenmus “Thinus” van der Vyfer, a senior State advocate of the Director of public Prosectuions office, was not there. So Isaacs was taken down to the holding cells again. Van der Vyfer arrived, and told the court that the charge sheet was temporarily missing. Isaacs, wearing a fez, jeans and a blue tracksuit jacket, was brought up into the court again. Just before Isaacs appeared in court, Sasha-Leigh’s parents, Michelle and Lionel Crook, and the girl’s grandfather, Michael Heneke, arrived under police guard, and were seated in the front row. Unlike Isaac’s first appearance, there were no disruptions by people in the packed gallery. Wynberg police crime intelligence officer Elizabeth van Rooi and Inspector Levinia Pienaar headed the police guard inside the court, and kept the doors closed to prevent more people from overcrowding the courtroom. But every time the door opened, people standing at the door craned their necks to catch a glimpse of Isaacs. isaacs’s family also attended his court appearance yesterday. Sasha-Leigh, a Grade 3 pupil at Thornton Road Primary School, went missing on July 6 from her grandparents’ home in Adrian Road, Ottery. She had been spending the holidays with her grandparents. Her body was found Monday last week near a sportsfield in Pelican Heights. Her face had been disfigured.

Sasha: crowd packs gallery

Cape Town – An angry crowd bayed for the blood of the man who appeared in Wynberg magistrate’s court in Cape Town on Thursday in connection with the murder of eight-year-old Sasha-Leigh Crook. It was the second appearance in court by Moegamat Isaacs, 25. He was not asked to plead and the case was postponed to August 4. The courtroom was packed and angry supporters of the dead girl’s family shouted threats and obscenities at the back gates of the court after the brief hearing. Isaacs appeared before Magistrate Wessel Marais. Defence attorney Keith Gess told the court he needed to approach the state for information before deciding the next step. He did not elaborate on the information he wanted. Gess said there had been a problem on Wednesday because Isaac’s had refused blood and hair samples demanded by the state without first obtaining legal advice. Gess said Isaacs had since received legal advice and was now willing to give the required samples. It is understood that several attorneys have refused to represent Isaacs and that Gess was the only one willing to do so. The girl’s body was found by members of a neighbourhood watch search party on a field in Pelican Heights, near Strandfontein, on July 14. She vanished from her grandparents’ home in Ottery on July 6 while waiting to be taken to a party. She was found fully clothed and lying on her right side. The skin on parts of the left side of her face appeared to have been stripped away and it appeared she had a gash near her throat.

‘Father Christmas’ fires lawyer

News24 – SAPA

Cape Town – Convicted child-sex offender James McNeil – dubbed the “Father Christmas” paedophile because of his many stints as a public Santa Claus – dismissed his lawyer on Friday. The move has delayed the start of sentencing procedure in his case, being heard in Cape Town regional court, until next Friday. McNeil was to have been sentenced on Friday on three counts of indecent assault, one involving a year-old toddler, and for possessing child pornography. The case had been postponed from March for reports from a probation officer and a correctional supervision official as part of the sentencing procedure. Although the reports were handed to the court on time, prosecutor Bronwyn Pithey asked for a postponement to May 30 to study them. At that stage, McNeil’s attorney, Sean Guy, announced that his client had terminated his mandate two minutes earlier.

‘Manifold’ reasons for axing lawyer

Guy told the court McNeil was upset because he had refused to visit McNeil in prison on demand. Guy said: “I informed my client I would consult him only once I had the probation and correctional supervision reports and that to consult him before I had them would have been premature.” McNeil told the court his reasons for ending Guy’s mandate were “manifold”, one of them being that he, himself, was not given an opportunity to prepare his defence or to rebut any of the evidence against him. He said he wanted to consult attorney Keith Gess before deciding whether to apply for legal aid. The case was postponed to May 16 when McNeil has to inform the court of his decision.

Monique trial accused out on R5000 bail


A TAXI driver arrested for the hijacking of the Oasis school’s minibus and the murder of disabled child Monique Valentyn has been released on bail of R5000 by the Cape High Court. Mr Justice Jerome Ngwenya ordered that Thomas Molwana, 38, a father of five, be released on bail and put under house arrest between 8pm and 8am. He was also told not to contact any State witnesses. Molwana and his brother, Mbulelo Gideon Molwana, have provisionally been charged with the murder of Minique, 16, and the hijacking of the Oasis bus. They have not yet pleaded. Thomas Molwana is not directly linked to Monique’s shooting, but was placed on the scene by a witness who identified him in a police line-up. Molwana brought the application in the High Court yesterday after being denied bail by Kuild River magistrate’s Court. The State says three men were involved in the hijacking of the minibus before 8am on September 3. The minibus had stopped to pick up a child in Mangel Street, Wesbank, when three men approached. Two held up the driver at gunpoint, taking his cell phone and firearm, while the third wrenced open the sliding door to let the children out. The State says Monique, who had the mental capacity of a five-year-old, was slow to get out, and the men sped off with her still in the vehicle. The minibus had just turned the corner into Tescombie street when witnesses heard a shot and saw Monique being pushed out of the moving vehicle. She died of a bullet wound at Tygerberg Hospital the next day. Inspector Anna Magrieta Cilliers told Kuils River Magistrate’s Court during the original bail application that the driver of the minibus would identify Molwana as one of his attackers. She said another person who is in witness protection might also be able to identify Molwana. Molwana, who employes four taxi drivers, has tuberculosis and diabetes. He complained in papers in support of his bail application yesterday that he was not getting his medication in Pollsmoor Prison. Both crimes – murder and robbery – fall under special bail laws, and Molwana had to convince the court there were special circumstances why he should get bail. Molwana’s wife, Nokuphumla Beauty Molwana, filed an affidavit saying her husband had been asleep with her at home in Nyanga at the time of the hijack. She woke up at 8am when the driver of Molwana’s bakkie, who had taken the Molwana children to school, returned. She said her husband rose only at 9am and left the house at 9h30am. In his judgement Judge Ngwenya said the hijacking and murder of Monique were heinous crimes. However, magistrate Linda van Tonder misdirected herself in refusing to release Molwana on bail. He found that cumulatively there were extroardinary circumstances that justified Molwana’s release. Some of the facts were: Molwana had solid roots in the Western Cape and was not a flight risk. He suffered from TB and diabetes. The strength of the State’s case was balanced by Molwana’s alibi defence. In a bail application the court does not decide on the merits of a case. There was no evidence that Molwana would intimidate witnesses. Molwana was a first offender. Because the case was heard on bail, both parties were bound by the record for Magistrate’s Court proceedings. During Molwana’s original bail application no evidence was placed before the court about the feelings of the community about Monique’s death, apart from indicating that they were shocked by the crime. No evidence was led about the intimidation of witnesses and why the witnesses were under witness protection.

State stalling in highway robbery trial


Attorneys representing four of seven accused who appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday in connection with a R1.8-million cash-in-transit heist on the M3, asked the court to set bail for their clients. They claim the bail hearing was delayed on several occasions because of the State’s negligence. Poyo Gobo, Tokiso Sithole, Zola Dadani, Lunga Luke and Vuyo Nyadaza faced charges of armed robbery. A traffic officer, James Mayston was also shot in the right arm during the incident. While driving to an accident scene on August 27, police unwittingly drove behind the alleged robbers and were fired upon. The seven suspects were arrested later in Ottery. Eight others were still at large. Co-accused Charles Sigabi abandoned his bail application, and a seventh accused, Gcinikhaya Makoma, will apply for bail at a later stage. In court on Thursday, it emerged that the prosecutor who prepared for the bail application, John Ryneveld, was ill and stat there was not enough time for another prosecutor to prepare for the hearing. In addition, the docket was not brought to court on Thursday. Attorney for Gobo, Luke and Nyadaza, Joshua Greeff, submitted that the stae did not have a valid excuse for a postponement. he said the accused would suffer “immense prejudice” if the bail application did not proceed. “We are not dealing with objects which have no feelings and families. The strain is on the accused,” he added. Defence advocate Andre Pienaar, who represented Dadani, said he did not agree with their argument, but asked the court to order the state to reveal how his client had been implicated in the case. He also asked for access to the docket. Magistrate Grobelaar said he did not agree that the state was negligent. He told Pienaar to bring the application for access to the docket at the next appearance. The hearing was postponed to October 9.

Bust by a hidden bullet


WHEN it is in the interests of justice and to an extent the protection of victims, an accused can be complelled to give incriminating evidence against himself. A case in point: The Minister of Safety and Security applied to court seeking permission to have a bullet surgically removed from the leg of a person accused of being involved in a robbery for the purposes of ballistic tests. They contended that the accused was shot and injured in the course of a botched robbery in which both the victims were killed. The accused resisted the application and the removal of the bullet on several grounds. An eye-witness had told the police that one of the robbers had been shot and injured. About two days after the robbery the police learnt from an informer that the respondent had been involved in the aforementioned incident and had bullet wounds in his thighs. The next morning the man was detained, with both his thighs in bandages. he indicated to the police that he had been involved in a scuffle at a tavern the previous day when someone interfered with his girlfriend and that he had been injured with a screwdriver. He also mentioned that he had received medical treatment at a particular hospital. The police took him to the hospital but there was no record of him being treated there. The owner of the tavern also denied that the incident described by the accused had taken place. Furthermore, the alleged girlfriend, in the accused’s presence, denied he was her boyfriend and had no knowledge of any injuries sustained by him with a screwdriver. The respondent was thereupon arrested on the two murder charges. The next day, the accused was taken to a District Surgeon. He reiterated his earlier explanation for his injuries and told the doctor he had been stabbed with a screwdriver. The doctor noted that his injuries looked like slightly septic bullet wounds which had not been professionally treated. X-rays were taken and they showed a clearly visible bullet in his upper left leg. The eye-witness to the robbery could unfortunately not positively identify the man and therefore the only available evidence to link him to the murders was a forensic test of the bullet. An orthopaedic surgeon told the court that the removal of the bullet would be a relatively simple and safe procedure under general anaesthetic. The police obtained a search warrant to secure the bullet but the accused refused to give permission for it to be removed from his leg. The accused contended that the medical procedure could endanger his life and result in pain, suffering and inconvenience. Furthermore, he contended that if the application was granted his rights would be violated. The court ordered that the police were entitled to use reasonable force, including any necessary surgical procedure, performed by qualified medical doctors, to remove the bullet and use it as evidence in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act. The accused was ordered to subject himself to the necessary surgical procedure. The bullet was duly removed and used in evidence in the trial.

Heist Seven bustled into court


Reporter: Yunus Kemp

A FORMER Apla member granted amnesty after the St James Church massacre and six other men have appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court after the cash-in-transit heist on Wynberg Hill on Tuesday. A trafic policeman, James Mayston, was shot and injured as the attackers were fleeing. Former Apla member Gcinikhaya Makoma, 26, Charles Sigabi, 25, and Zola Dadani, 25, all of Khayelitsha, Poyo Gobo, 19, and Lunga Luke, 25, of Langa, and Tokiso Sithole, 18 and Vuyo Nyabaza, 18, of Gugulethu, were arrested shortly after a cash van was attacked at the foot of Wynberg Hill near Contstantia. In the attack R1.8 million was looted from the van, loaded with money destined for autobanks in the Peninsula, and the driver of the van was pistol-whipped. Police were called and a high-speed car chase let to Ottery, where seven of the men were arrested. Eight men escaped with most of the money, but police recovered a bag of cash, a number of firearms including an AK-47, an R5 assault rifle and two 9mm pistols, and ammunition. Makoma was a member of the Pan Africanist Congress’s military wing, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army and along with two others, was found guilty of attacking worshippers during a service at St James Church in Kenilworth on July 25, 1993 with firearms and hand grenades. Eleven people died and 58 were injured. The three were serving life sentences when they were granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 1998. At the court yesterday security was tight. Members of the police’s intervention unit led the seven men from the holding cells to the dock. The officers, all wearing bullet-proof vests, kept watch over the men and their families, who had packed in the public gallery. Ben Mathewson, for Gobo, Luke and Nyabaza, told magistrate Anieke Pretorius that his clients had been assaulted by police during their arrest. “I wish to place on record… that police trampled Gobo’s head, that after being handcuffed, Luke was kicked in his lower body and dragged by his arms, and that Nyabaza was mauled by police dogs which bit his legs,” said Mathewson. The men were not asked to plead. Pretorius postponed the matter to September 5. When the seven men stepped down from the dock, their family members stood up and rushed to get near them. Police stepped between family members and the men and prevented them from having physical contact, but not before relatives threw envelopes with money at the men. The men were remanded to Pollsmoor.

Tight security as seven alleged cash-in-transit robbers appear in Wynberg court


Reporter: Fatima Schroeder

SECURITY was tight at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court yesterday where seven men, including one granted amnesty for the St James church terror attack in 1993, appeared in connection with a R1.8million cash-in-transit heist in Ottery on Tuesday. Traffic officer James Mayston was shot in the right arm by cash-in-transit robbers. While on their way to an accident scene, he and his colleagues unwittingly drove behind the alleged robbers at high speed on the M3. Minutes later police arrested some of the men at a stop street. Another three were arrested near Ottery Hypermarket. Police recovered the money and confiscated and AK-47 rifle, an R5 assault rifle, two 9mm handguns and ammunition. One of the men, Gcinikhaya Makoma, a former member of the Pan Africanist Congress’s military wing, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla), was released from jail in 1998 after he was granted amnesty for the St James Church released from jail in 1998 after he was granted amnesty for the St James church terror attack on July 25, 1993 that claimed 11 lives. He and two other men were serving life sentences for 11 murders and 58 counts of attempted murder and were granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 1998. In court yesterday, several members of the police’s Intervention Unit were present to prevent the accused’s family and friends from reaching them. State prosecutor Sarie Brink said the accused – Makoma, poyo Gobo, Charles Sigabi, Tokiso Sithole, Zola Dadani, Lunga Luke, and Vuyo Nyadaza – would be charged with armed robbery Brink asked the court for a seven-day postponement for further investigation. She said crime intelligence was compiling profiles of all seven men. Attorney for three of the accused, Ben Mathewson, placed on record that his clients said they were assaulted by police after their arrest on Tuesday. He said Gobo received head injuries and that Luke was kicked in his lower body and pulled by his arms. Nyadaza had leg injuries from being bitten by police dogs, Mathewson said. Magistrate Anieke Pretorius postponed the trial to September 5, when the court is expected to set a date for the bail hearing.