‘Screams’ before Croeser’s murder

2011-08-31 00:00

A SECURITY guard at Albert Falls yesterday told how he heard screams coming from Erika and Morné Croeser’s house in the early hours of morning on which she was murdered on August 28 last year.

As they neared the house a gunshot rang out.

Victor Hlophe told Judge Esther Steyn and an assessor he did not see anyone come out of the Croeser property.

Croeser has denied murdering his wife by stabbing her 14 times. The state is leading circumstantial evidence to prove that he did so and then stabbed himself to bolster his version that an intruder attacked them.

Erika Croeser’s mother, Francoisona Schafer, testified that the couple had problems because of his “extramarital activity” and constant belittling of his wife over her weight, as well as altercations over their children.

He also assaulted Erika once and she needed stitches to her lip, she said.

The owner of the Amble-Inn pub and grill, Desmond Spooner, said the couple socialised there till the early hours of August 28 last year, and alleged Morne paid his wife “more attention than he normally did”.

The couple were the last to leave, but departed abruptly and Croeser left an unfinished drink behind.

Spooner insisted under cross-examination that Croeser wore an open-neck cotton shirt and not a blue T-shirt that was depicted in a photograph.

The court also heard that twice in the week before the murder — on August 24 and 25 — Croeser went to check on his home and reported to a colleague that his wife had “heard noises”.

The prosecution alleges Erika Croeser’s version of what happened on August 25 — which she reported in an e-mail sent to a colleague, Denise Govender — differs from Morné Croeser’s.

In her e-mail Erika stated she went to bed at 9.15 pm, when she heard her dogs barking. “I heard a car stop at my house and my front gate opening the next thing I heard shots being fired in my garden, the car pulled off at a speed … At about 9.25 pm Morne arrived home, he heard a noise at the back of the house and proceeded to see what it was. As he came around the corner he saw a suspect running from my back door towards the fence and he fired shots. The person jumped the fence and his colleague proceeded to Princess’s house to see if he could find the person, but could not find anyone.”

Croeser’s colleague, Constable E. Rautenbach, said Croeser received a cellphone call that night similar to one the previous night. On arriving at home Croeser said he would “go in and look” and asked him to drive around the block to see if anyone came round there. Rautenbach did not observe anyone. They left after Croeser arranged for someone to stay with his wife.

In the car Croeser said, “Well they’re not going to come back anytime soon if there was someone.” Croeser then told Rautenbach he had “fired some shots” and thought he saw someone at the back of the house.

Croeser did not use his police dog to pick up spoor at the scene, but Rautenbach said the dog was vicious and would have “eaten” Croeser’s small dogs.

The trial proceeds.

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