Moodley retrial judgment set for Wednesday

2012-01-27 07:22

Convicted murderer Donovan Moodley will hear at 9.30am on Wednesday whether the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has granted his application for a retrial.

Judge Joop Labuschagne said yesterday that he would consider the matter and read through the relevant documents.

Moodley was found guilty in 2005 of the murder and kidnapping of university student Leigh Matthews (21) and of extorting money from her father.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping and 10 years for extortion.

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

Moodley’s argument rests on his claim that three Nigerian drug dealers – named Frank, Allie and Jemba – orchestrated the kidnapping and murder.

He said former investigating officer Piet Byleveld forced him to say he had done it alone because he could not lead police to the three.

Yesterday, Moodley said he did not call the police after Matthews’s body was discovered because he was afraid.

“I was sitting at home watching the media coverage on TV. The reason I did not go to the police was (that) I was totally afraid and freaked out.”

Moodley claimed that evidence found in Matthews’s car was tampered with. He said a lottery ticket with his fingerprint on it was faked to frame him.

“There is no lotto ticket in the police’s inventory,” he said.

“A footprint, allegedly belonging to Frank, was destroyed or lost by the police. This proved that all the hullabaloo I have made about the confession is indeed true,” Moodley told the court.

Earlier, prosecutor Zaais van Zyl argued that Moodley was given an opportunity to tell the court, during the original trial, whether he had been coerced into making the confession.

“He was asked: Have you read the statement? Do you understand the statement? Do you plead guilty of your own free will?” Van Zyl quoted from the 2005 transcript.

Van Zyl said Moodley had the chance then to tell his version of the truth, if he had lied originally.

“He makes the sweeping statement that everything he needs was destroyed by Byleveld. There is absolutely no proof that it ever existed.”

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

Moodley said his home, including cupboards and two deep freezers where a body could have been hidden, was never forensically examined.

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

In Moodley’s rebuttal of Van Zyl’s arguments against a retrial, 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.”

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

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

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