Reporter: Karen Breytenbach
TWO alleged gang members from Eerste River have been acquitted by a Western Cape High Court Judge of murdering a teenage girl who accused one of them of raping her. Judge Elizabeth Baartman found that the State had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that alleged Dixie Boys gang boss Garron “Slams” Potts and his friend Dhevenity “Debill” Mitchell were involved in the April, 2005, murder of Es-Louis Linnert. Both men were out on bail. She was allegedly raped by Potts at the age of 14, and shot deat at 16 before she could testify against him. As argued by attorney Ben Mathewson, for Mitchell, and Johann Engelbrecht SC, for Potts, the judge found that the State relied on two unreliable witnesses whose testimony remained uncorroborated. Evelyn Linnert’s identification of Mitchell as the man who shot her in the neck and shot dead her niece as they walked across a field had to be treated with caution, as she was the only eyewitness. She only got a look at the shooter for three seconds as she tried to push him away, and visibility was not good, because it was dark. She said it had been a full-moon evening, but the defence showed it would have been a sickle moon according to the moon calendar. She also got the time wrong and no-one corroborated her identification. The court therefore could not rely on her identification. The court also rejected the testimony of Jeswaine Williams, a man who claimed to have been in Potts’s inner circle. He claimed to have over-heard Potts saying he wanted Linnert killed because he did not want to spend more money in trying to squash the rape complaint. Judge Baartman found that Williams was a heavy tik user at the time, although he claimed to have quit since spending three years in witness protection. He contradicted himself often, and his testimony about an alleged conspiracy between Potts and his friends to have Linnert killed was “insufficient and extremely poor”. The court could not rely on his evidence. Although the State had many other witnesses who might have been able to corroborate Williams, they were not called. Linnert had also accused three other men of rape, so it was not possible to say that Potts was the only person with a motive to kill her. Other evidence presented also did not offer any proof beyond resonable doubt of the men’s guilt. The public gallery filled up as the judgment came to an end, with Calvyn Marinus and some of his co-accused in an organised crime trial next door taking up some seats. Mitchell and Potts had wide-eyed expressions as Baartman acquitted them and greanted Williams, who was a Section 204 witness, immunity from prosecution for incriminating himself of drug dealing during his testimony. Mitchell and Potts were greeted outside by a group of friends, who joined them and Mathewson at a coffee shop.