Court refuses to drop charges against man accused of killing wife on wine estate

2017-03-10 18:20
Johan du Toit  (Denzil Maregele, Die Burger)

Johan du Toit (Denzil Maregele, Die Burger)

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Cape Town – The Paarl Regional Court on Friday refused an application to have charges dropped against a man accused of killing his wife on a wine estate in Franschhoek in 2010.

The application to discharge Johan du Toit, almost seven years after his arrest, was brought after the State closed its case against him.

After hearing argument from both sides, Magistrate Joe Magele refused the application without giving reasons at this stage.

Du Toit is alleged to have strangled his wife, Chanel, to death. Her body was found in the bedroom of their Franschhoek home on July 7, 2010.

Du Toit's mother found the body after her son apparently had called her on the morning of the incident, asking that she have a look at his house.

Du Toit later claimed he left the house at 02:00 in the morning to go hunting.

Defence lawyer William Booth had tried to convince the court that there was no evidence against his client by shooting down the testimonies of each of the witnesses.

"The State's case falls flat on its face," he said.

Prosecution rejects intruder theory

But prosecutor Enslin Orange said the court should look at the evidence in totality.

The fresh superficial marks found on the accused’s face and body shortly after the murder could not be explained by his work on the farm.

"It is logical to assume that the deceased’s main focus was to free herself and defend herself. Any action to her assailant was inadvertent."

He rebuffed the defence’s criticism of testimony on calculating the time of death.

He said the pathologist was on the scene, had proved her expertise, and had some experience.

"If the State has succeeded in proving he was there between 6:05pm, when she was still alive, and 2am when he left, then the court must find he was present at the time of death."

On Booth’s argument that the couple were in love, he said testimony had been lead that there was indeed trouble between the two.

He also did not buy the defence’s argument that an intruder had likely gained entry into their home because of the disarray and open door.

'Scene looked staged'

Booth had referred to police testimony that clothes were strewn about, the gun safe was on the bed and a firearm was lying to the side.

"It is strange that an assailant would not take that gun, your worship. It seemed that it [the scene] looked staged," Orange said.

In his reply, Booth said he could not fathom how the State thought there were marital issues.

He felt the State must have seen difficulties and problems with its pathologist’s evidence because they had tried to present further evidence from someone else.

After the court refused the application, Booth asked for an adjournment pending the reasons for the refusal.

Magele responded: "It would appear that defence is somehow holding a gun against the court, telling the court that whatever decision we take, we will take only after court has given its reason for deciding what it has decided. I don’t think our criminal law allows that."

Booth said that was not his intention at all. He merely wanted time to consult with his client.

He would say on the next appearance whether he intended calling Du Toit, other witnesses, or if he wished to close his case.

The matter was postponed until April 21.

Read more on:    johan du toit  |  cape town  |  crime

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