Murder accused walks

2010-09-15 00:00

MURDER charges were withdrawn yesterday against the former boyfriend of Pretoria schoolgirl Anika Smit, who was raped and murdered, and her hands cut off, in March this year.

Nico Venter (21), who had a brief relationship with Anika (17), was arrested in May and charged with the gruesome crime.

Investigating officer Captain Mike van Aardt said yesterday there is no main suspect in the case, but “several suspects” are being investigated.

He declined to release any more details. However, Van Aardt did confirm that Anika’s hands have not been found yet.

Van Aardt said retired brigadier Piet Byleveld — who took over the investigation days after Venter was arrested — is no longer involved in the case.

When she heard the news from reporters yesterday, Anika’s mother, Charlotte Eksteen, said her greatest wish is for police to find the “right” suspect, since she doesn’t want an innocent person to end up in prison.

Johan Smit, Anika’s father, was at court early yesterday, but left before proceedings started.

Smit said later that each time his daughter’s case comes up it causes him “unbelievable sadness”.

“In my heart I’m convinced and I pray every day that the guilty party will be found and punished. If the murderer isn’t caught he’ll still have to explain to the Great Judge up there one day,” said Smit.

Prosecutor Tania Carstens told the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court that the charge against Venter was withdrawn on instructions from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. She didn’t give any reasons for the decision.

Venter’s family and his girlfriend, Narina Theunissen, threw their arms around one another in a spontaneous embrace when the murder charge was withdrawn.

Nico Venter snr, the former accused’s father, said they are relieved that his son’s case has been dropped.

“This case has been disrupting our lives for months on end. We’re just glad the trial is over now.

“My heart goes out to Anika’s parents. What about that poor child? She deserves justice.

“I don’t know what I would do if it were my child,” said Venter.

He said their case is far from over.

Venter jnr is considering legal steps and possibly a civil claim against the state.


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