News24

Smit murders not solved - SAPS

2006-06-01 15:18

Johannesburg - The Smit murders of 29 years ago have not been solved, police said on Thursday.

Responding to media reports that new information had come to light, solving the murders, spokesperson Ronnie Naidoo said the police was not aware of the information.

"The information in question has never been brought to the attention of the SAPS and we have never been requested to provide investigative assistance," he said.

"It is therefore misleading to suggest that the Smit murders have been solved."

Naidoo said the police have asked that the statement supporting the claim that the murders have been solved, be handed over to them for further investigation.

High profile case

"The police have always regarded this as an atrocious murder and a high-profile crime.

"We cannot therefore understand why the information wasn't referred to us, despite the lapse of a number of years."

Beeld reported on Thursday that three men have been identified as suspects for the murders of National Party politician Robert Smit and his wife in Springs in 1977.

According to unnamed sources in the intelligence community, two of the suspects were part of the apartheid-era security police and the third a member of police's task team.

According to Beeld, Smit was killed to stop him publicising information about bank accounts the former government had in several foreign countries.

Billions of rands of taxpayers money were in about 15 accounts from which organisations fronting for the apartheid government were paid.

Suspects

Suspected of involvement in the murders, security police member Phil Freeman committed suicide in Cape Town in 1990. According to Beeld, Smit was to meet with Freeman on the night of his murder.

Shortly before the murders two stiletto knives addressed to Freeman were delivered from Italy to a police station in Cape Town. Jean-Cora Smit was stabbed 14 times with a similar knife.

The second suspect, Dries Verwey, was found dead in Port Elizabeth.

Investigators believe he was killed - and did not commit suicide as was said - as he was right-handed and had been shot in the left side of the head.

The third man, known only as RA, is living in Australia.

No application had been made to have RA extradited from Australia as investigators still had to take certain statements.

Advocate Tori Pretorius, in charge of the investigation into the Smit murders at the national prosecuting authority, commented to Beeld on its information: "I cannot correct anything you have said."