Fruit vendor who allegedly killed cop denied bail

Metro policeman Ben Koopman's widow Katriena at the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court (Jenni Evans, News24)
Metro policeman Ben Koopman's widow Katriena at the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court (Jenni Evans, News24)

Cape Town - Bail was denied to a fruit vendor accused of the murder of Cape Town metro police officer Ben Koopman in a judgment handed down in the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court on Monday.

"I'm happy," said Koopman's wife Katriena, wearing a T-shirt with a picture of her husband in his blue uniform on the front.

The mother of four had been joined by at least 15 people who had arrived at the out-of-the-way court to offer support - all wearing the memorial T-shirt bearing Koopman's image.

"I am not bitter," said the home care nurse who faces Christmas without the man she was married to for more than 30 years. "It is in God's hands."

Her husband was shot dead when he popped in for lunch from work at their home in Avon Park, Elsies River in February this year. His service pistol and two-way radio were stolen in the attack.

He was on his way back to his vehicle when he was ambushed in the street by two people.

A R50 000 reward was posted for information that led to his alleged killers, but two other arrests fell through for lack of evidence. 

'That's you dog'

In the dock on Monday was 27-year-old Christopher Jantjies, who earns around R2 000 a week selling fruit and vegetables for a living. He said he needed to keep on working to provide for his fiancée and their baby, given that he pays R1 200 for monthly rent and R300 a week for maintenance for another child. He believed the case against him was weak because he had an alibi.

He claimed to have been with friends on February 15, the day Koopman was killed, as part of his drawn out birthday celebrations. He said he only heard about Koopman's murder when he read about it in a newspaper.

Magistrate Vincent Ketye said Jantjies had been very specific about time and location when he provided his alibi, but investigations had revealed some discrepancies and an omission.

One was that he failed to tell the court that when he had shown his friends the YouTube video that emerged online of the killing, one commented that one of the two attackers looked like him.

"His first reaction was, 'That's you dog'," said Ketye.

"That I find very interesting. Because when he testified he made no mention of this. If it was not for the investigating officer who went to confront the people, we would not have known about that."

Previous convictions

Ketye said that his job was not to put Jantjies on trial - it was to decide whether there were extenuating circumstances to justify his release in the interests of justice, and if there was a prima facie case against him.

He noted that Jantjies had four previous convictions - one for theft, two for possession of drugs and one for possession of an unlicensed firearm - as well as a pending case of assault with grievous bodily harm.

"They are not that old," said Ketye, adding that the current murder case involves the use of an unlicensed firearm.

He was also concerned that the accusation involved the death of a law enforcement official.

"Law enforcement officers are being killed on a daily basis," said Ketye, who had earlier postponed the case of three men accused of killing Kraaifontein police officer Mziwonke Siwisa.

He could not find in favour of Jantjies' request to be released and denied him bail.

The Koopman case was postponed to February 24 for proceedings to continue.

The Siwisa case was postponed to Wednesday.

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