Henning calls not strange, says lawyer

2012-01-24 22:30
Pretoria - A defence lawyer has sought to quell suspicions about contact between the estranged husband of murdered Pretoria mother Chanelle Henning and one of his best friends.

"You testified that they were the best of friends. Why would it be strange for Mr Henning to phone my client?" the lawyer asked in the Pretoria Regional Court on Tuesday.

Anel Jacobs was cross-examining investigating officer Captain Petrus van der Spuy.

She said her client, Andre Gouws, was a friend of Chanelle's husband Nico.

Gouws is accused of complicity in the murder of Chanelle, who was shot dead after dropping off her child at a crèche in Faerie Glen, east of Pretoria, in November.

Van der Spuy testified last week that Gouws was called from Nico's phone on the weekend before the murder.

Not co-incidental

He conceded under cross examination on Tuesday that there had been communication long before the murder, during the plotting and commission of the murder and since the murder.

Van der Spuy said he did not believe the communication between Henning and Gouws was co-incidental.

The officer was giving evidence in opposition to a bail application by Gouws.

He testified that phone records indicated that Gouws had sent Henning's estranged husband Nico two text messages on the day of the murder.

Police picked up the messages from detailed billing records obtained from the cellular phone company, but they had been deleted from Gouws' phone.

In the trial of former policeman Gerhardus du Plessis and Willem Martinus Pieterse, Du Plessis claimed in an affidavit read to the court that he had heard a caller instruct Gouws to postpone the hit scheduled for that weekend because "the bitch had the baby this weekend".

Du Plessis and Pieterse were convicted on December 14 of the murder and jailed for 18 years under a plea-bargain.


When asked last week how it was that Du Plessis heard the conversation, Van der Spuy told the court that Gouws's phone had been on speakerphone.

Jacobs asked if the State's case rested on the basis of the affidavits supplied by Du Plessis and Pieterse, both of whom had confessed to drug and alcohol addiction problems.

"If you are planning a murder and sitting in a public place, why would you put a phone on speakerphone?" she asked.

Van der Spuy conceded that there was no closed circuit television footage showing that Du Plessis and Pieterse had in fact met Gouws at the pizza restaurant.

Jacobs said Gouws admitted to being there and to receiving a call from his friend Nico Henning while waiting for his order. He left after receiving his pizzas.

She asked Van der Spuy why the police had not arrested a person identified in both Du Plessis and Pieterse's affidavits as Sly.

"Sly is being directly implicated. Why is he not a co-accused? Why has he not been arrested?" Jacobs asked.

Sly was identified as the man who threatened Du Plessis when the former policeman balked at carrying on with the planned hit.

Van der Spuy said investigations were still ongoing.

Danger to society

Earlier on Tuesday, the court heard that Gouws had tumultuous relationships with two former spouses.

He allegedly fired shots at his first ex-wife in 1994 and his second wife, who lives in the Free State, obtained an interdict against him in 2007 after a spate of "threatening and manipulative" text messages.

Van der Spuy said Gouws's debt collecting business appeared to be almost non-existent.

He said Gouws had told a prospective client he collected debts for his clients by sending debtors pictures of their families and children.

Van der Spuy described Gouws as "a danger to society and does not respect the country's laws".

According to Gouws' affidavit, read to the court by his lawyer, he intends pleading not guilty to the charges when the trial starts.

Assault claims

He claims to have been severely assaulted when he was arrested and again during his detention.

However, on Tuesday Van der Spuy told the court that Gouws had refused to vacate his cell to allow prison warders to conduct a standard search.

He said the warders had used the "necessary means" to get him to do so.

In the affidavit, he said he was the custodian of his 70-year-old mother to whom he gave financial support.

However, Van der Spuy said on Tuesday that investigations had revealed that Gouws' mother lived with his sister in Port Elizabeth and had done so since December.

Prior to that, according to the detective, she lived in Alberton up until the sale of her house there.

Van der Spuy said that Gouws' mother had given the money from the sale to her son.

"The money is gone," said Van der Spuy.
Read more on:    chanelle henning

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