Murder accused ‘was my lover’

2011-09-06 00:00

MORNE Croeser (34), accused of the murder of his wife, was involved in an “on and off” extramarital relationship with local teacher Ruth Sinclair from March 2009, the high court in Pietermaritzburg was told yesterday.

When asked in court yesterday how she knows Croeser, Sinclair replied, “He’s my boyfriend.”

She said they started a relationship in March 2009 and that Croeser moved in with her for two weeks in October that year and again for three weeks in November 2009.

“The relationship was very off and on,” she told Judge Esther Steyn.

She confirmed that she continued to see Croeser during the three-month period he spent on border duty between May and August 13, spending “about two weekends” with him during that time.

Cellphone records showed that Croeser sent her as many as 15 SMSes a day while he was away.

She testified that during August she “didn’t have much contact” with him, but agreed that he stayed in touch and that she also saw him on his return from the border on August 13.

The cellphone records indicated that on the day before Erika Croeser’s murder, August 27, 2010, Croeser spoke to her twice via cellphone.

She described the calls as “just conversations”.

Croeser’s advocate, Murray Pitman, had no questions for Sinclair in cross-examination.

Croeser’s former colleague at the Mountain Rise police dog unit and a close family friend, Sergeant Reginald Iyer, said he knew about Croeser’s affair with Sinclair and that Croeser had introduced her to him.

“I knew she was married at that time, but I never met the husband,” he added.

Iyer, who attended the scene of the murder, said he had “not felt comfortable” about going to Erika’s funeral and made an excuse. Under cross-examination he agreed that he suspected Croeser of the murder.

He testified that the first time he had asked Croeser what had happened on the night of Erika’s murder was around May this year.

Croeser said he and Erika had gone out and were “happy and had a good time, but Erika upset him and he became angry and they went home”.

When Pitman put to it to him that Croeser denies saying this to him, Iyer replied, “It’s his word against mine.”

Iyer said he never saw Croeser behave violently towards Erika, although they did argue.

One night at a braai there was an argument because Croeser wanted to see Erika’s cellphone and she refused.

He said she’d received SMSes from someone and didn’t want to show them to him.

Another former colleague of Croeser, Warrant Officer Reeno Dayaram, said Erika telephoned him sometime in “February or April 2010” and asked him to go to Albert Falls and take her husband’s firearm because they had an argument.

He went there and found Croeser sitting on the house steps. “I immediately asked him for his firearm … I told him Erika phoned me. He then informed me that he would not shoot her, all he wanted was the kids.”

Croeser handed his firearm over to Dayaram, who called Erika and told her it was “okay to go home because Morne did not seem too aggressive”.

He returned the gun to Croeser when he reported back on duty and asked if he had sorted out his problems at home. He said he had.

The case is proceeding.

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