Moodley: Leigh's dad changed testimony

2012-01-25 16:46
Johannesburg - Murdered university student Leigh Matthews' father changed his descriptions of her kidnapper, the man convicted of her murder claimed on Wednesday.

"Rob Matthews changed his statement to say it was an Asian man with an Indian accent," Donovan Moodley told the South Gauteng High Court during his attempt to get a retrial.

Previously, he claimed, Matthews described the man who collected the ransom as black with no accent. He claimed that three other witnesses reported seeing a black man at the drop-off point for the ransom to secure Leigh's release near the N1 at the time.

"There was absolutely no way of convincing anyone that Mr Matthews' second statement was a lie," Moodley said.

He was found guilty in 2005 of Leigh's murder and kidnapping and the extortion of her father.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping, and 10 years for extortion. Moodley said he was unaware at the time that Matthews had changed his description of the kidnapper.


It was only changed to match him after he was identified as a suspect, Moodley claimed. He repeatedly pointed out that the crime was "haphazard" and "quite stupid".

"That's not like me."

Moodley went into the details of the kidnapping, extortion, murder, and disposal of the body, and pointed out more efficient ways these could have been achieved.

By way of an example, he said: "It would be easier to move a body with rigor mortis rather than a body that wobbles."

A lottery ticket found in the murdered woman's car with Moodley's fingerprint on it was a clear fabrication, he said. Moodley said proof of this was that the ticket was not reflected on the police inventory of items found in the car. He did not, however, deny he had been in the car.

Moodley also disputed that money deposited into his bank account was the ransom money.

"Again, I was a financial manager... I would not have made the mistake of depositing it into my account."

The money came from the sale of his BMW to fund his studies, Moodley said.

Forced to confess

Earlier, he claimed he had been forced to confess to the murder and was denied a lawyer when investigating officer Piet Byleveld interrogated him.

"He said there would be no lawyers until he was finished with me."

Moodley said he initially told Byleveld and seven other policemen that three drug dealers, called Frank, Allie, and Jemba, had orchestrated the kidnap and murder of 21-year-old Matthews from the parking lot of Bond University on July 9 2004.

Moodley told the court Byleveld stood on his chair and lifted his handcuffed arms up from behind.

"The pain was too much for me and I cried."

Byleveld then told Moodley that "I must say I did it alone". This was because Moodley could not direct police to Frank, Allie, and Jemba.

"They asked questions. Byleveld would suggest an answer and I would say yes."

The poor English in the transcript was evidence of this, he said.

Moodley, who represented himself in court, said the confession should have been made before a magistrate.

Abuse of power

"[But] they knew I would tell the magistrate what was happening."

Moodley also claimed Byleveld had "abused his power" by changing dates and destroying evidence. He said Byleveld had caused Rob Matthews to change his witness statement. Byleveld has since retired from the police.

In an SMS Matthews was forced to send her parents, Moodley said she referred to her captors as "they", proving he had not acted alone.

"But [the SMS] was lost because it suits Byleveld's purpose."

Moodley argued at length that it was impossible for him to have moved Matthews from her car to his in the university's busy parking lot without anyone seeing him.

"So much evidence points to the fact that I was set up."

Moodley said he wanted a retrial to tell "this version of the truth, which I maintain to be the truth".

He did not mention the three drug dealers before, he said, because he feared they would harm his family.

Earlier, Moodley said: "Donovan Moodley has become persona non grata, untouchable. Even people close to me refused to give testimony and don't want to be associated with the case."
Read more on:    donovan moodley  |  piet byleveld  |  leigh matthews  |  johannesburg  |  leigh matthews case

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

How much food do you need to concentrate?

We have been taught that we need three meals a day in order to make it through the day and while most of us indulge in more than our fair share there is a large portion of South Africans who are living off barely enough to sustain them.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.