Accused cop's rage

2011-02-09 00:00

A MEMBER of the Pietermaritzburg SA Police Force dog unit, Morné Croeser (34), charged with murdering his wife, Erika in a premeditated, staged robbery last August, could be back on the beat today after being granted bail of R5 000 yesterday.

At his bail hearing, Croeser denied he is a “walking time bomb” because of ongoing anger management issues.

He also denied that, if allowed to go free and resume his duties armed with a firearm, he would pose a danger to others, including his daughters, aged three and six, because he knows he could face life imprisonment if convicted.

“I will never, ever hurt my children,” he said. “My plan is to live a full life and to see my children.”

A seemingly composed Croeser admitted he has a temper, that he assaulted Erika in January 2010 and that he has had “more than one” affair during their marriage.

He also admitted he was involved with his current girlfriend (identified only by her surname, Sinclair) at the time of his wife’s death, but he said he intends to plead not guilty to Erika’s murder.

Croeser said he knew five days after the murder that police suspected him, and his friends in the police advised him long ago to get a lawyer.

“I told them … to let them get on with their investigation and I told them to just tell what they knew,” he told magistrate Rod Stewart.

Croeser claims he was stabbed in the stomach during the alleged murder, that he was hospitalised and underwent an operation for the injury. He did not comment on the state’s allegation that he stabbed himself in a bid to evade justice.

He agreed during questioning that he “still has a lot of anger” arising from what has happened and is receiving counselling.

He admitted that Erika’s parents met him in April or May last year to discuss his temper and said they did not want him at their home.

He said he was not aware that Erika had sought a protection order against him because she was afraid for her life, as the state alleges she did.

Investigating officer Swami Pillay of the organised crime unit said in an affidavit opposing bail that the state has a strong case against Croeser based on circumstantial evidence. This includes evidence by medical and other experts proving that the wound to Croeser’s abdomen was “probably self-inflicted” and that wounds to his hands were consistent with his holding the knife while stabbing his wife.

Pillay said there is evidence that Croeser staged two break-ins at the couple’s home in the week prior to the murder in an attempt to mislead people in the Msinsi reserve.

Pillay expressed concern that, if given bail, Croeser could intimidate or influence witnesses, who include his friends in the police, his girlfriend, his father and his in-laws.

The case has been postponed to February 15.

Croeser’s advocate Dawid Joubert disputed the state’s contention that the murder was premeditated. Even if Croeser did kill Erika, it was more likely to have been in the course of a “savage rage attack” as she had 14 stab wounds.

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