Signature on will forged - handwriting expert in Barkhuizen murder trial

2017-10-10 20:52
George Barkhuizen. (Jabulile Pearl Hlanze, Netwerk24, file)

George Barkhuizen. (Jabulile Pearl Hlanze, Netwerk24, file)

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Johannesburg – An independent handwriting expert on Tuesday testified that the signature of a woman alleged to have been murdered by her husband was forged in her last will and testament.

Johannes Hattingh, a retired forgery expert, was testifying in the South Gauteng High Court in the case of businessman George Barkhuizen, who is on trial for allegedly killing his wife, Odette.

Hattingh told the court that he compared a sample of Odette's signature to that on a copy of her will and found that it was "forged".

Hattingh also found that "signatures from the policy documents in comparison to the will were totally different".

Barkhuizen is facing charges of murder, fraud, unlawful possession of a firearm and the unlawful possession of ammunition.

In June 2011, Odette, who was 43-years-old, was shot in the head and chest, in what was then thought to have been a hijacking.

R7.5m insurance

However, Barkhuizen reportedly became the prime suspect later in the case.

During the bail application at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court in September 2015, the court heard that Barkhuizen allegedly took out insurance worth R7.5m on his wife weeks before she was gunned down.

The court also heard that Barkhuizen allegedly sent the insurer an email asking if they would pay out if his wife died in a hijacking.

News24 previously reported that on the day that the insurance was taken up, Barkhuizen was alleged to have forged Odette's will to reflect that he was the sole beneficiary of her entire estate.

The couple's marriage was also on the rocks, the court heard.

One of the couple's sons had reportedly informed the police that his parents were sleeping in separate bedrooms and his mother had indicated that she wanted to file for a divorce.

A long-standing friend of Barkhuizen, Ernest Goose, disputed this in court. He said the couple had their fair share of problems but they were "okay".

Document witnessed a month later

"According to me, it (the relationship) was okay. I did not see any marital issues. Like every marriage, they had good and bad times," said Goose.

Goose, who is the godfather of one of Barkhuizen's sons, told the court that in May 2015 Barkhuizen approached him asking him to be a witness on his late wife's will.

"He presented a document and then I witnessed," said Goose.

He said he did not find it strange that Barkhuizen asked him to witness a document which was dated April 24, 2015, a month later.

Shortly after he signed Ordette's will, Barkhuizen then presented Goose with his own will, which Goose also witnessed.

Goose said after Odette's death, he received a phone call from Barkhuizen informing him that the police would be contacting him.

He said that at no stage did Barkhuizen coerce him into falsifying or withholding information.

The matter continues on Wednesday.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  fraud

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