Ignore De Jager's callousness - lawyer

2014-03-27 21:11
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Cape Town – The Western Cape High Court should not find that Johannes Christiaan de Jager murdered a teenager because he described her dismemberment without emotion, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Sakkie Maartens was referring in his closing arguments to his client's description of dismembering 16-year-old Mpumalanga resident Charmaine Mare last January.

On the stand, De Jager said removing her limbs while under the influence "was the same as slaughtering a goat in the veld".

Maartens said he understood the remark did not generate a lot of sympathy or empathy.

"Do not read this callousness into the murder and constitute it as some sort of proof that we have the right man and he killed her intentionally and unlawfully," he said.

De Jager, 49, has pleaded not guilty to killing Mare, and not guilty to raping and killing 18-year-old prostitute Hiltina Alexander in 2008.

He previously testified that Mare died in an accidental fatal fall in his bathroom and that he dismembered her body and set her torso alight in a panicked and shocked state.

Maartens said De Jager had been on the scene at the time and the court could thus not ignore his version of events.

The pathologist who examined Mare's body could not make a conclusive finding on the cause of death, he said.

"Except for the accused's version, the court simply remains in the dark as to why, how and exactly when Charmaine died."

Maartens said the flaws and inconsistencies in De Jager's testimony where not of such a nature that the court could reject his evidence as false.

Common assault

Earlier Maartens told the court that De Jager is guilty of common assault for forcefully grabbing a teenager in his custody.

"It is conceded that on the accused's own version he cannot escape a conviction on common assault."

Maartens argued that not only did his client not murder Mare, he could also not be found guilty of culpable homicide.

"It is not reasonably foreseeable that lethal injuries could possibly follow as a result of someone violently grabbing and pulling a... teenager off balance in a bathroom."

Maartens said the court could not make an assumption about De Jager's character based on his decision to cut Mare's limbs off.

"Because he took the foolish route of trying to make everything disappear into thin air, one has the urge... [to say] you deserve to be labelled a murderer."

Besides previously pleading guilty to dismemberment, De Jager also admitted guilt on a lesser charge of theft of Mare's phone, rather than robbery.

Maartens said there was no evidence to suggest De Jager assaulted or threatened the accused to take possession of her phone.

"It is, therefore, submitted that theft of the cellphone is the only finding justified by the evidence."

Acting Judge Chuma Cossie postponed the trial until next month.

"The court will consider the arguments that have been presented and it will adjourn to 15 April 2014 for judgment."

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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