Police admit to handling schoolgirl case sloppily

2010-05-05 13:58

The state has agreed with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that

the police investigating the 2003 murder of Cape Flats schoolgirl Sasha-Leigh

Crook could have done a better job.

The SCA was hearing evidence in the appeal of Moegamat Isaacs, the

man found guilty of murdering the eight-year-old girl. He is now serving a life

sentence.

Judge Mohammed Navsa asked state prosecutor Christhenus van der

Vijver: “The question comes up: could the police have done better?” To which van

der Vijver replied: “Yes. I agree, the confession was handled sloppily.”

Crook was found stabbed to death at a rubbish dump near a field

eight days after she disappeared.

She was last seen talking to Isaacs on July 6 2003. He lived with

his mother next door to the girl’s grandparents’ home.

Police investigators found rags stained with the girl’s blood in

Isaacs’s garage. A piece of chipboard found on her body matched chipboard found

at Isaacs’ home.

The state’s case also rested on an apparent confession by Isaacs to

his mother which was overheard by the police that he choked the girl while under

the influence of drugs.

On appeal, Isaacs’ lawyer Charles Stamper submitted in papers that

the High Court had relied too much on the state’s “circumstantial evidence” and

the purported confession.

Stamper submitted that there was no evidence to suggest that Isaacs

murdered the girl, with whom he had contact.

He told the panel of three SCA judges that, at the very least, the

so-called confession was not as “reliable” as the circumstantial evidence.

However, Van der Vijver argued that the judges should bear in mind

that the police were “taken by surprise” by the sudden confession.

She also submitted that the overwhelming circumstantial evidence

found on Isaacs’s property, which police also could have searched more

thoroughly at an earlier stage, overshadowed any gaps in the state’s case.

It is still not known exactly when Crooks died and where she was

kept before her body was dumped near the field.

Van der Vijver asked the judges to pay attention to Isaacs’

apparent reluctance to testify. Judgment was reserved. – Sapa



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