State: No proof of destroyed evidence

2012-01-26 16:36
Johannesburg - There was no proof that evidence was destroyed which convicted murderer Donovan Moodley claimed would have exonerated him, the South Gauteng High Court heard on Thursday.

"He makes the sweeping statement that everything he needs was destroyed by (former investigating officer Piet) Byleveld," prosecutor Zaais van Zyl said.

"There is absolutely no proof that it ever existed."

Moodley was found guilty in 2005 of the murder and kidnapping of Bond University student Leigh Matthews and the extortion of her father. Moodley was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping, and 10 years for extortion.

‘Crushed by weight of the State’

In his application for a retrial, Moodley argued Byleveld tortured him during his interrogation and abused his power to ensure his conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

"I was a young defenceless man who was crushed by the weight of the State," Moodley said.
The statement he gave when pleading guilty in the trial was not corroborated by police investigation, he said.

"The public have been led to believe that something has been investigated that never was."

Moodley said his home, including cupboards and two deep freezers, where a body could have been hidden, were never searched or forensically tested.

Moodley began his application for a retrial on Wednesday. He has chosen to represent himself.

‘Do you plead guilty of your own free will?’

Van Zyl argued that Moodley was afforded the opportunity to tell the court if he had been coerced into making the confession in the original trial.

"He was asked, have you read the statement? Do you understand the statement?... Do you plead guilty of your own free will?" he said, quoting from the 2005 transcript.

Van Zyl said Moodley then had the chance to tell his version of the truth, if he had been forced to lie.

In Moodley's rebuttal of Van Zyl's arguments, he said the State's only answer to his arguments on Wednesday was that they were improbable.

"There are many improbable stories out there in the world that are true."

Moodley said he wished he could get a clip of an Oprah Winfrey show he once watched about innocent people who pleaded guilty.

"History is replete with innocent men being burnt at the stake... I saw an entire Oprah show about similar cases," he said.

Byleveld had told the media repeatedly that more arrests were expected in the case.

"No one in this court believes this case has been solved," Moodley said.

‘Media circus’

His argument rests on his claim that three Nigerian drug dealers - Frank, Allie and Jemba - kidnapped Matthews and murdered her. Moodley said Byleveld forced him to say he had done it alone because he could not lead police to the three.

He directed a comment at Matthews' mother in court for a statement she had made to the media.
"Mrs Matthews, I never claimed to be Jesus."

Judge Joop Labuschagne interjected: "That is irrelevant to your case".

Van Zyl also objected on the grounds that Moodley was using the court as a "media circus".

"This is a gross abuse of these proceedings," he said.
Read more on:    donovan moodley  |  piet byleveld  |  leigh matthews  |  johannesburg  |  leigh matthews case

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