Cop confesses to pulling the trigger in Pretoria hit

2011-11-16 15:30

Pretoria - A suspended policeman appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Wednesday charged with the murder of a young mother in the Pretoria suburb of Faerie Glen.

Gerhardus Petrus du Plessis, 34, appeared before Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair amid tight security, with at least 10 armed police officers present.

Du Plessis, a suspended detective constable at the Hercules police station in Pretoria, covered his head with an old T-shirt as he arrived in court.

His brief appearance was adjourned to allow him to consult his Legal Aid lawyers.

When proceedings resumed, prosecutor Andrea Johnson told the court Du Plessis had handed himself over to the police shortly before midnight on Monday.

Confession

"We have a confession," she said, before the matter was postponed to November 23 to allow the State to gather more evidence.

Gauteng police announced Du Plessis' arrest earlier on Wednesday.

"The 30-year-old arrested on Monday is a police member... [There is] a case under investigation where two murder dockets were allegedly stolen, which carries an automatic suspension," said Major General Nobesuthu Masiye.

Chanelle Henning, 26, was shot dead while driving home after dropping off her son at a pre-primary school in Manitoba Drive last Tuesday.

Witnesses told police that two men on a motorbike overtook her car and fired several shots. One hit her chest, fatally wounding her.

Her car continued moving for about 100m before crashing into a rock on the pavement.

Du Plessis has been charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said three others were likely to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

"We are convinced we have enough evidence to sustain the charges. I am sure of that," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gauteng deputy police commissioner, Major General Nobesuthu Masiye, said four people had been arrested.

The identities of the other three were not revealed.

Masiye confirmed Du Plessis had been suspended in connection with two stolen murder dockets.

The theft of the dockets took place two weeks before the Faerie Glen murder was committed.

Masiye said the police officer - now known to be Du Plessis - had confessed to being the one who "pulled the trigger".

Ex-husband not a suspect

Shortly after the shooting, police questioned Henning's ex-husband - they had been fighting each other for custody of their child - but he was released.

Masiye said he did not appear to be a suspect.

She said the arrested policeman was a South African, but she would not comment on the nationality of the other three people arrested.

On Wednesday, the New Age reported that two men, including the policeman, had been taken in for police questioning.

The other man had a criminal record, the newspaper reported. It claimed they had been paid by a known Nigerian drug dealer.

Masiye would not confirm this, but said: "The victim was never on drugs".

She said police had recovered the revolver that was used to kill Henning, but the motorbike used in the attack had not yet been recovered.

Further details, including the suspected motive for the killing, could not be revealed as the investigation was at a "very sensitive stage", Masiye said.

This included whether any of those arrested matched an identikit released by the police over the weekend.

- SAPA

Read more on:    chanelle henning
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