‘Wife feared husband’

2011-08-30 00:00

SIX months before local policeman Morné Croeser (34) is alleged to have stabbed his wife at least 13 times, she told her twin brother, Francois Schafer, that Croeser had assaulted and threatened to kill her, the high court in Pietermaritzburg was told yesterday.

Croeser’s advocate, Murray Pitman, however, put it to Schafer in cross-examination that Croeser will deny he ever threatened to kill his wife, Erika.

The defence earlier objected to the prosecution leading “hearsay” evidence by Schafer about what Erika had allegedly told him, but was overruled.

In legal argument Pitman suggested that Schafer had “always held the view” that Croeser killed his sister at their Albert Falls home in August 2010, but under cross-examination later Schafer testified that he did not immediately believe Croeser killed Erika.

“I wasn’t sure … I had doubts. A stabbing is very brutal. I didn’t think he could stab somebody. That’s why we went to the hospital to hear from him,” he said in response to questions by Pitman.

Schafer said his sister called him last February asking for help and told him Croeser had assaulted her and threatened to kill her. He advised her to obtain an interdict and accompanied her to the magistrate’s court in Pietermaritzburg to do so. However, because her home address was in Cramond she was told to apply in New Hanover.

Zandile Khanyile, a paralegal at New Hanover, confirmed that Erika Croeser approached her for help in obtaining a protection order against her husband, but abandoned it, saying he is a policeman and no one would serve it on him.

Erika had said Croeser assaulted her, verbally abused her by telling her she was “fat” and ought to go to gym, and he lived with another woman while the couple were separated for a period, Khanyile said.

Schafer testified about a family meeting in “about May 2010” to discuss an unrelated issue, during which family members accused Croeser of being “unstable” and of assaulting Erika, and expressed concern over the fact that he always carried a firearm.

He alleged that during the discussion Croeser said if anyone took his children away he would “kill” that person.

Schafer said family members told Croeser he was not allowed to come to their mother’s house unless he underwent anger management counselling or professional help.

He agreed that Erika had been “very upset” and “screamed” at his [Schafer’s] wife for bringing up the issue of Croeser’s assault on her.

He also agreed his sister had never told him that she wanted to divorce Croeser and that she loved Croeser.

He said he knew of only one incident when Croeser hit his sister, causing her to have four stitches in her lip.

Addressing the court at the start of the trial, state advocate Irene Neyt told Judge Esther Steyn and an assessor that the case against Croeser is based purely on circumstantial evidence.

The state will lead expert testimony in a bid to show that Croeser was the person who stabbed his wife and then stabbed himself in the stomach to divert suspicion from himself.

Croeser’s stab wound, though painful, was allegedly “not life-threatening”, Neyt said.

The accused, dressed in an informal charcoal grey suit and black tie, sat calmly in the accused’s dock taking notes.

He has pleaded not guilty.

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