Baby Bella back in safe hands

2011-09-10 00:00

BABY Bella is back in safe hands.

The grandmother of three-year-old Isabella, whose father Clint Walley killed her mother Catherine Krog and then turned the gun on himself this week, arrived in Durban from Australia yesterday to take custody of her grand-daughter.

Later this month the high court in Durban would have heard a court application brought by Charmaine Wheatley, who wanted to have custody of her granddaughter, claiming that neither Walley nor her own daughter were fit parents.

But Lieutenant Anton Booysen of the Hawks revealed yesterday, however, that Isabella could find herself in the middle of a tussle if members of Walley’s family follow through on interest shown in adopting the child.

“I received a call from Clint’s sister Cynthia yesterday, who was interested to know about Isabella and the custody arrangements. Walley’s parents, who are Johannesburg-based may also be eligible if they apply for custody,” he said, but that would be the subject of a high court trial, which could take several years.

Walley snatched Isabella earlier this year in a case that was due in court yesterday, where Krog had been expected to give evidence that her ex-husband was a dangerous man who previously pointed a gun at her. Booysen was also expected to give testimony.

“The trial was in the process, and yesterday would have been a significant hearing in that I was expected to give my evidence — which was damning,” said Booysen.

In a previous interview with The Witness, Krog described her ex-husband as “calculating and cruel”.

Eleven days after Walley abducted her, Isabella was found in a safehouse in Kimberley. Krog revealed at the time that Walley taunted police with e-mails and SMSes that they would never see Isabella again.

In February Walley was denied bail in the Durban Magistrate’s Court. He was initially charged with kidnapping, but the charge was dropped because Isabella was his child. He was then charged with failure to comply with a high court order and remanded in custody. He subsequently re-applied for bail and was granted R2 000 bail.

Krog (27), who in the past has pleaded guilty to drug dealing, and was investigated several times for insurance fraud — but never convicted — claimed to run a human resources consultancy when Walley (50) snatched her daughter.

However, days before snatching his own child, Walley posted video tapes of Krog arriving for work at a strip club in Windermere Road, Durban. She had also worked as a stripper in various nightclubs in Amanzimtoti.

Durban man Snowy Smith told Weekend Witness that he helped Wheatley to prepare the court application: “Obviously it won’t go ahead now. Charmaine Wheatley will simply be given custody. The only good thing is that Isabella will now have a stable life.”

In the weeks before he murdered Catherine Krog and shot himself, Walley had been living rough, sleeping in parks and outside shopping malls. His double-storey home in Ridge Road on the Berea was held in the name of a trust, but when Walley was arrested for child-stealing earlier this year police opposed bail on the grounds that he had no fixed abode and did not appear to own property. While in prison Krog used the services of a well-known Durban law firm to remove Walley from his trust and sold the Ridge Road home once she had taken control of the trust that administered it.

While he was in prison Walley had a cellphone smuggled to him and in an interview said: “That shows you the sort of person Catherine is. She told the police I don’t own any property and they believed her. Then, when I am in prison and cannot defend myself she goes and begins proceedings to have me removed as a trustee and beneficiary from my own trust. And while I was in prison she also broke into my property and stole all she could.

“She is very good at making herself look like a victim. The only victim is Isabella. When Catherine goes out partying little Bella is left with strangers, and sometimes on her own … You should see the SMS messages Catherine sends me, boasting about sex orgies and drug taking. I had to save Isabella from that.”

Walley repeatedly claimed that Krog’s boyfriend, Owen Kemp, is an underworld figure — but Kemp has never been convicted of any underworld activities. Recently Kemp has taken to surrounding himself with bodyguards.

Walley saw himself as a victim, claiming that he was being discriminated against because he was male. When Krog twice took Isabella overseas without getting his permission he claimed police simply ignored his complaints.

Walley claimed to have spent over R100 000 bringing a high court application in which his access and visitation rights to Isabella were legally defined.

He claimed the effort was wasted, saying: “I took that court order and laid criminal complaints at Berea police station against Catherine. Nothing got done. Then when I took Isabella, Catherine opens a case and has every cop in town hunting me down, giving interviews about how I had kidnapped Isabella … how can it have been kidnapping? I told Catherine’s mother that I was taking Isabella and kept in touch with her, telling Charmaine exactly where we were every step of the way.”

Walley also claimed that Krog repeatedly laid false charges against him, claiming, among other things, that he had once chased her around the streets of the Berea while threatening to murder her with a double-handed axe.

Wheatley flew in from Australia yesterday to be with Isabella. At the time of Walley’s bail application, Wheatley went public with her views that neither Walley nor her daughter were fit parents, calling them “dysfunctional idiots”.

Wheatley said she believes Walley snatched his daughter because he cared for the little girl deeply, not to victimise Krog. Attempts to contact Wheatley were not successful at the time of going to press.

Smith said he has been communicating with Wheatley on a regular basis. “I have been helping her prepare the court application for custody of Isabella. Walley was going to be a party to the application.

“The last time Wheatley was here she heard about how Catherine had taken his home and drove around looking for Walley. Eventually she found him and brought him to me. We cleaned him up and fed him. He was terribly depressed, though.

“I offered to help him try get his house back, but he just wasn’t interested any more. He had clearly lost the will to live. He believed that Catherine Krog had won and was despondent about the future of the little girl that he so adored.”

Smith said that he found some of Walley’s stolen furniture and goods at the Mount Edgecombe home where Krog was murdered. “Walley laid charges of theft, but just like the contempt charges he laid, these were simply ignored.”

Police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge said investigations into the double shooting are continuing. Among other issues being probed are how Walley had access to a firearm and how he got into the supposedly secure residential estate.

Questions about who dropped Krog off at the “secret house” in Mount Edgecombe and where Walley was staying in the past two months remain the subject of an investigation.

It is rumoured that he may have been staying in Pietermaritzburg.

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