Moodley: Leigh's dad changed testimony

2012-01-25 16:46

Johannesburg - Murdered university student Leigh Matthews' father changed his descriptions of her kidnapper, the man convicted of her murder claimed on Wednesday.

"Rob Matthews changed his statement to say it was an Asian man with an Indian accent," Donovan Moodley told the South Gauteng High Court during his attempt to get a retrial.

Previously, he claimed, Matthews described the man who collected the ransom as black with no accent. He claimed that three other witnesses reported seeing a black man at the drop-off point for the ransom to secure Leigh's release near the N1 at the time.

"There was absolutely no way of convincing anyone that Mr Matthews' second statement was a lie," Moodley said.

He was found guilty in 2005 of Leigh's murder and kidnapping and the extortion of her father.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping, and 10 years for extortion. Moodley said he was unaware at the time that Matthews had changed his description of the kidnapper.


It was only changed to match him after he was identified as a suspect, Moodley claimed. He repeatedly pointed out that the crime was "haphazard" and "quite stupid".

"That's not like me."

Moodley went into the details of the kidnapping, extortion, murder, and disposal of the body, and pointed out more efficient ways these could have been achieved.

By way of an example, he said: "It would be easier to move a body with rigor mortis rather than a body that wobbles."

A lottery ticket found in the murdered woman's car with Moodley's fingerprint on it was a clear fabrication, he said. Moodley said proof of this was that the ticket was not reflected on the police inventory of items found in the car. He did not, however, deny he had been in the car.

Moodley also disputed that money deposited into his bank account was the ransom money.

"Again, I was a financial manager... I would not have made the mistake of depositing it into my account."

The money came from the sale of his BMW to fund his studies, Moodley said.

Forced to confess

Earlier, he claimed he had been forced to confess to the murder and was denied a lawyer when investigating officer Piet Byleveld interrogated him.

"He said there would be no lawyers until he was finished with me."

Moodley said he initially told Byleveld and seven other policemen that three drug dealers, called Frank, Allie, and Jemba, had orchestrated the kidnap and murder of 21-year-old Matthews from the parking lot of Bond University on July 9 2004.

Moodley told the court Byleveld stood on his chair and lifted his handcuffed arms up from behind.

"The pain was too much for me and I cried."

Byleveld then told Moodley that "I must say I did it alone". This was because Moodley could not direct police to Frank, Allie, and Jemba.

"They asked questions. Byleveld would suggest an answer and I would say yes."

The poor English in the transcript was evidence of this, he said.

Moodley, who represented himself in court, said the confession should have been made before a magistrate.

Abuse of power

"[But] they knew I would tell the magistrate what was happening."

Moodley also claimed Byleveld had "abused his power" by changing dates and destroying evidence. He said Byleveld had caused Rob Matthews to change his witness statement. Byleveld has since retired from the police.

In an SMS Matthews was forced to send her parents, Moodley said she referred to her captors as "they", proving he had not acted alone.

"But [the SMS] was lost because it suits Byleveld's purpose."

Moodley argued at length that it was impossible for him to have moved Matthews from her car to his in the university's busy parking lot without anyone seeing him.

"So much evidence points to the fact that I was set up."

Moodley said he wanted a retrial to tell "this version of the truth, which I maintain to be the truth".

He did not mention the three drug dealers before, he said, because he feared they would harm his family.

Earlier, Moodley said: "Donovan Moodley has become persona non grata, untouchable. Even people close to me refused to give testimony and don't want to be associated with the case."

  • Jymiro - 2012-01-25 17:01


  • calliedj - 2012-01-25 17:02

    So now its OK for the drug dealers to go ahead and harm your family?

  • Bokfan - 2012-01-25 17:03

    Sargon thanks for the insight but I'd say the courts got this monstrous little swine stone cold. I really feel for the poor girls' parents. Not to mention the dreadful experince of Leigh herself. A clear job for the hangman I'd say.

      jannie.debeer - 2012-01-25 17:22

      If there was a death penalty her family would have had peace. Now they have to relive this horror . Apart from that, it slaps the face of judiciary and pokes fun at the most respected serial killer hunter this country has ever known. It angers me that the public are becomming more vulnerable by the day, and that the protectors of society end up protecting only themselves. I spit at you. No wonder that the people stone thieves to death like it is the dark ages. Give us justice.

      Squeegee - 2012-01-25 18:04

      JAnnie. I actually hope that Moodley has a long life. Once all his nonsense has been exposed for the rubbish it is, he will be returning to enjoy the hospitality of one of our prisons. Now I know there is this perception that prisons are luxurious in SA, but nothing is farther from the truth. They are hell holes. He will be someones 'special friend' for a long time.

  • Jymiro - 2012-01-25 17:13

    At face value I would dismiss this as last attempts of a dying horse. However looking at the serious allegations in Donovan's application with obviously the little information provided by the press, there seems to be a prima facie evidence for the case at least to be reviewed and if any evidence is found to be substantial a retrial can be allowed. The following are matters which need to be investigated in the review process to determine if they are factual; whether the confession was not made in fornt of the magistrate, the winess changed his statement and relevance of that statement to the outcome of the case, the investigators behaviou during the interview process and other relevant matters.

      Njandini - 2012-01-25 17:59

      You might be quite correct Jymiro. Supposing certain issues were overlooked during the trial and we establish that this guy was indeed set up, it would be possible to release the guy now, whereas with a death pernalty things could not be reviewed or reversed even if the guy was indeed innocent.

  • molaodid - 2012-01-25 17:18


  • Jerhone - 2012-01-25 17:22

    Why does he not pull the dying in jail card, it worked for some other spineless indian

      Betweenuandme - 2012-01-25 18:01

      Why bring the man's race into it?

      Squeegee - 2012-01-25 18:07

      That's next after this attempt fails. or is it going to be the "I'm insane" trick? Or the Devani suicide shuffle?

      Yar - 2012-01-25 20:12

      @Jerhone - Good one!! Dying in jail would be good.

      nasheenar - 2012-01-26 08:20

      Well said ...LOL

      nasheenar - 2012-01-26 08:22

      @Betweenuandme cos he is a slimy, dirty, lying Indian thats why. A disgrace to the Indian community!!!!!!!

  • Jymiro - 2012-01-25 17:33

    We will do our country proud if you do things properly and don't react emotionally. I have sympathy for the Matthews family but if there are such serious allegations they need to be investigated. If there are other people involve in this brutal crime they need to be equally brought to book because they are a danger to society. The Matthews family should actual welcome these development so that they can ultimately know how was their child kind and who inflicted the fatal would and why did they do that.

      Vuyo - 2012-01-25 18:05

      @ Jymiro - And how is that information going to be of any solace now? This boy has been found lying and fabricating stories on an ongoing basis. He really doesn’t come across as the type that would be more worried about the safety of his family than his own especially in the event he faced life in jail. But he’s made this Frank, Allie, Jemba allegation before. Why did the police not act? Moodley sits in his jail cell every day replaying what he should and shouldn’t have said. What could or couldn’t have been done with a body etc. His cellphone signal was picked up by a mast in the area where she died at the time she died - that gave him away and sealed his fate.

  • Nick - 2012-01-25 17:55

    Makes perfect sense, why would her father want to catch the real culprit?

  • Larry - 2012-01-25 17:58

    This guy is seriously demented. Why are they giving him the time of day?

  • MurrayDixonTaylor - 2012-01-25 17:59

    Someone please put a gag in this idiots mouth. He has put the family through enough pain without having to bring up all these horrible events, again and again, every second year.

  • Bernard - 2012-01-25 18:01

    This is just so ridiculous - why are we listening to this convicted murderer - he killed that defenceless girl in cold blood and caused all her friends and family untold anguish - please withdraw him from society - we do not want to hear any more from him

  • Jymiro - 2012-01-25 18:22

    @Vuyo. I am not advocating for a retrial at this stage as he has requires in his application but at least a review which can settle the matters you are also raising once and for all, like why the police never folllowed these guys (they might be dangerious criminals who are wait to hit another victim). I hope you never experience a situation where information has been manipulated, fabricated and manipulated by the police to get conviction at all costs. This is happening in South Africa on a daily basis. I am suggesting that Piet has done the same but when there are allegations of this nature, they need to be investigated. Donovan is a convicted criminal but he still have rights when he feel that the due process of law has not taken place. I hope the judge will at least call for the review of this case

  • Jymiro - 2012-01-25 18:25

    @Vuyo. Just a correction. I am not suggesting that Piet has done the same. Honestly a think he is a reputable police and an investigator who is an asset to South Africa

  • Andy - 2012-01-25 19:26

    our justice system sucks, how many appeals can one man have?

  • marcelo.chihale - 2012-01-26 09:08

    Moodley cause pain to Leigh's family and now he want to protect his family.that is very cold.

  • aonions2 - 2012-01-26 18:00

    I rekon, this country needs some sharp and well trained ex-mercinarys to get behind the right kinda treatment for social vermon like this. A bullet costs less than a court case and who would be bothered.

  • Ken - 2012-01-26 21:49

    It's time to let Moodley do his time, quietly, and away from any more attention. Let him sleep in the bed that he made for himself.

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