Ill assessor delays Bronn trial

2014-02-17 19:22
Police carry the body of Bruno Bronn out of his Cape Town flat. (File, Sapa)

Police carry the body of Bruno Bronn out of his Cape Town flat. (File, Sapa)

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Cape Town - The absence of an assessor in the Bruno Bronn murder trial on Monday caused a postponement of the matter to Tuesday.

When proceedings resumed on Monday, Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe said the matter could not proceed as his assessor, Jaco van Reenen, a retired chief magistrate, had taken ill.

Hlophe, who presides in the case, apologised to the three men accused of strangling Bronn, but said he could not proceed without the assessor.

He sought to assure the men that Van Reenen would be back on Tuesday.

The men are Frederick Willem John Coetzer, Fareez Allie and Achmat Toffa.

They have pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Carien Teunissen, for the State, alleges they acted in common purpose in strangling Bronn at his Sea Point home on the night of 6 February 2012.

According to a summary of facts handed to the court, Coetzer, prior to the alleged incident, had been in a romantic relationship with Bronn.

On the night of the alleged incident, Coetzer, Toffa and Allie went to the Bronn home in a vehicle driven by Kurt Erispe.

Coetzer entered the home first, followed by Allie and Toffa.

It is alleged they overpowered Bronn, strangled him and escaped in the deceased’s luxury car.

They allegedly took with them Bronn’s laptop, cellphone, briefcase and a number of bottles of perfume.

Murder charge carries a life sentence

According to the indictment, the murder charge carries a life sentence, and the robbery 15 years.

At the time of his death, Bronn owned the gay night club, The Bronx, in the Cape Town CBD.

Erispe has meanwhile become a State witness in the case, and will be indemnified against prosecution if his testimony is ruled to be truthful and satisfactory.

Last week, Bronn’s domestic worker, Jakoba Marcus, told the court the first thing she noticed on her arrival for work at his Sea Point home on 7 February 2012, was that his two dogs were on the veranda, instead of being inside with Bronn.

Marcus told the court: "Usually, when I arrive for work, the deceased was still asleep, with the dogs lying with him on his bed."

She said she had a key for the front gate, and the front door was closed, but unlocked, to give her access to the house.

She added: "When I went inside, I saw that the door to the pool outside was closed, and the curtains still drawn - both the door and the curtains were usually open to allow the dogs out to go to the toilet.

'House in disarray'

"I opened the curtains, and then noticed that all the drawers in the lounge were open, and the house in disarray.

"The deceased was neat and tidy, and I wondered why he was so mixed up from the night before.

"I worked for him on Mondays and Fridays, and I had expected to find the house as I had left it the previous Friday."

She said she went to look for the deceased, thinking he was awake because the dogs were on the veranda.

"As I went to his bedroom, I passed his study and noticed that his laptop, which he kept on a glass table in the study, was missing.

"I knocked on his bedroom, and called him by his name, but there was no answer.

"I opened the door and saw that his bedroom was in disarray. I got a fright and was immediately afraid and thought there had been a robbery."

She told the court how she had gone back to the veranda in a state of shock, wondering what to do.

She first tried to alert the neighbours, but got no reply, and she then stopped a passing security patrol vehicle.

She said she asked the driver to accompany her back into the house, to see where the deceased was.

The security officer went into the deceased’s room and said to her: "Madam, there is a man lying in the bedroom -- I think he’s dead."

She then went into the bedroom herself, to make sure it was the deceased, she said.

She said Coetzer worked for Bronn as a handyman, and had a key to the house.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    john hlophe  |  bruno bronn  |  cape town

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