Chanelle suspect 'unlucky or very wicked'

2012-02-16 22:47
Pretoria - A man accused of being the mastermind behind the slaying of a young Pretoria mother was either the "most unluckiest [sic] person" or "inherently wicked", the Pretoria Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that Andre Gouws had tried to present himself as victim of coincidence.

But in his closing argument, Nel pointed out that the number of coincidences placing Gouws in the conspiracy that led to "the cold-blooded assassination of a 26-year old mother on her way to work" were simply too many to be believable.

During the bail hearing the court heard that cellphone records placed Gouws near Chanelle Henning's residence a number of times prior to her murder. CCTV footage at the same time showed on three occasions a Ford Bantam bakkie and a blue motorcycle similar to those owned by Gouws.

Nel said it was bizarre that cellphone billing records placed Gouws at the same pizza parlour on the same day and same time where Gerard du Plessis and Willem Pieterse claimed to have met him.

Silence is deafening

"If this was coincidence, then this applicant is the most unluckiest person," said Nel.

He pointed out that the State did not have to prove anything. The onus was on Gouws to prove there were exceptional circumstances for the court to release him on bail.

He said Gouws' "silence" in explaining away evidence placing him at key locations in the conspiracy to kill Henning "was deafening".

Du Plessis and Pieterse were earlier this year sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment each following a plea bargain agreement where they admitted their roles in the murder.

Nel pointed out that out of all those accused in the case, Gouws was the only one to know Henning's estranged husband Nico.

"The question remains: Who contracted Gouws?"

Motive

Gouws' dire financial situation - his house had recently been repossessed by the bank - would give him motive to accept a contract to kill Henning.

If there was no one who contracted Gouws to carry out the killing then "we are dealing with an intrinsically bad and or inherently wicked person".

Nel argued there was a number of incidents from ex-wives and business partners proving that Gouws was willing to act beyond the law and should therefore not be granted bail.

Gouws' lawyer Anel Jacobs argued that the case against her client was based on police speculation and dishonest witnesses.

She said the State's case was based on "two co-accused [Du Plessis and Pieterse] who are dishonest, corrupt murderers who could not stand the test of credibility".

She said they were self-confessed drug and alcohol addicts - a point Nel accepted in his argument, saying that "you just don't get a church minister to commit murder".

Jacobs said investigating officer Captain Petrus van der Spuy had made "loose unsubstantiated statements" and "vague allegations to make the applicant [Gouws] look suspicious".

Threatened in jail

She accepted that she needed to prove exceptional circumstances for her client to obtain bail. One such circumstance was the weakness of the State's case.

Jacobs said her client was not a flight risk and could have fled immediately after November 8, when Henning was gunned down after dropping her son off at a crèche.

She said police had failed to prove that the Ford Bantam bakkie and a blue motorcycle, seen on CCTV footage outside Henning's home in the days prior to her murder, belonged to Gouws.

She said the police's attempt to deny Gouws bail was to get him to opt for a plea agreement.

Her client had been threatened by fellow-inmates as well as prison officials. He had, in fact, been assaulted.

Earlier, Gouws' two co-accused, Ambrose Monye and Preshan Singh, appeared in court. They were ordered to appear in court again on March 29.

Singh, who allegedly provided the gun to Pieterse that Du Plessis used to commit the murder, is out on R5 000 bail. Monye is in police custody.

Magistrate Kiro Pillay will deliver her decision on whether Gouws will be granted bail on March 2.

Read more on:    andre gouws  |  chanelle henning

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