Meghan Cremer's face was so badly disfigured that family identified her by piece of jewellery, mom tells court

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Meghan Cremer's mom, Gill (right).
Meghan Cremer's mom, Gill (right).
Leon Knipe
  • Jeremy Sias, the man charged with killing Meghan Cremer, pleaded not guilty to the murder in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
  • Cremer, an avid horse rider, went missing in August 2019.
  • Cremer's mother, Gillian, took the stand in her daughter's murder trial.

Her daughter's face was so badly disfigured, she was only recognised by the ring she had been wearing since she was 15-years-old, bereft Gillian Cremer said on the first day of the Meghan Cremer murder trial.

"We couldn't identify her face properly because of her injuries," her mother, the State's first witness, testified in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

"We were shown her body. We gave them identifying scars that she had, that they checked. We asked them to look on her left hand for the ring she wore since she was 15. They found it on her and confirmed to us."

READ | Meghan Cremer murder trial begins

On Monday, Jeremy Sias pleaded not guilty to the premeditated murder of the avid horse rider, who the State contends was murdered in her cottage at Vaderlandsche Rietvlei Farm in Philippi, where Sias was employed as a general worker.

He faces four charges in total, included aggravated robbery, theft, and obstruction of justice, in that he allegedly dumped Cremer's stolen iPad in a toilet and destroyed her cellphones to avoid being traced.

Meghan Cremer
Meghan Cremer.

Cremer, 29, was strangled with a blue ribbon. She went missing on 3 August 2019 and is believed to have been assaulted and killed that day. Her body was discovered on 8 August – Sias pointed out her body at the scene in bushes in Olieboom Road, Philippi.

The blue ribbon used to strangle her was still around her neck, hands, and feet.

Initially charged alongside Charles Daniels and Shiraaj Jaftha, the two have since been convicted in the Wynberg Regional Court. They hid Cremer's car while trying to find a potential buyer. Their attempt to sell it, however, fell through as they could not produce the registration documents.

The pair had been arrested two days after Cremer's disappearance while in possession of her Toyota Auris. Meghan's body was found in the early hours of 8 August. Her mother, who lives in Knysna, but had been in the city since a day after her daughter's disappearance, identified Meghan later that morning.

She lived for four years on the Philippi farm, where she had two horses stabled. She worked at the Woodstock Bakery and ran her own business making horse ribbons and products from her cottage, sometimes competing in local horse shows.

Gillian says she spoke to her daughter throughout the day, every day, both by phone and on WhatsApp. The day she went missing, the last message her daughter replied to was shortly before 17:00.

When she texted her around 20:00, her message didn't go through. Gillian unsuccessfully tried to contact her again early the next morning, on both her personal and business phone. Her calls went straight to voicemail.

"That's when I knew something was wrong. She never turned her phone off."

She contacted the farm manager, Thomas Mbalula, and asked him to go and check on her daughter and whether her car was there. She had been scheduled to work at the bakery that Sunday. Mbalula later testified that her door had been locked and her car was not in the parking area.

Gillian said:

I then phoned the bakery and was told that Meghan hadn't pitched for work. That raised a red flag – she'd never missed a day's work.

A driver from the bakery recalled seeing Meghan's car at a police roadblock in Wynberg the night before. The farm owner's son and Mbalula drove her usual route, trying to find her car, and went to report her missing at the Philippi police station when they didn't spot it.

Gillian flew to Cape Town that day. "To look for her," she told Judge Elizabeth Baartman. She later met with police and went to her daughter's cottage where they could see that items were missing.

"Obvious stuff we noticed initially were her laptop, her cellphones, her iPad, her handbag," she said.

She cried as she told the court that she was woken up at 06:00 on 8 August 2019, confirming that a body believed to be Meghan's had been found, which she needed to identify at the mortuary.

The trial continues.

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