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Cellphone was ‘too painful a reminder’

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“This was strange because he never had a problem telling me that sort of information before,”

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THE MOTHER of a Kimberley man who was brutally murdered two years ago, threw her cellphone away because it was too painful a reminder of her son’s death.

The murder trial of Shaun Carelse, Mamogelo Mocumi and Boitumelo Matlola, who are accused of killing 24-year-old Gershwin Swartz, continued in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday, with the victim’s emotional mother, Mary Swartz, testifying that she had received several suspicious text messages from her son’s cellphone number following his disappearance and up until the day that his body was found in a veld on July 16, 2016.

While fighting back tears, the distraught mother recalled the last time she saw her son alive, their last telephonic conversation and a series of text messages from Gershwin’s phone that she believes were not sent by her son.

Earlier this week Gershwin’s father, Gerald Swartz, testified that he had last seen his son alive on Monday, July 11, 2016, when Gershwin left home in the VW Polo that was registered in his name.

Mary told the court yesterday that Gershwin had returned home from work in Kathu shortly after midday on July 11, adding that they had spent a pleasant afternoon together.

“We had a nice chat for about two hours about life in general,” she said. “That night, we sat together, ate and watched soapies.

“He decided to go to sleep, but about 10 minutes later his phone rang. He came out of his bedroom and got dressed and said he was going out.”

While this was the last time she saw her son alive, Mary said that Gershwin had later phoned her about half a dozen times, asking for petrol money, but was cagey about who he was with at the time.

“This was strange because he never had a problem telling me that sort of information before,” she said.

Mary said she became worried when Gershwin didn’t return home the following day (July 12), adding that her concerns mounted after her husband and son had had a heated exchange over the phone, with Gerald telling Gershwin to come home.

“After the discussion with his father, I asked a friend to call Gershwin’s number. Another person answered and said that they were busy and that the phone was about to die as the battery was flat.”

After this phone call, Mary said that she had tried to open a missing persons case with police but was told she needed to wait 48 hours to do so.

“I then asked if they could search for the vehicle, but they just called the next person and wanted nothing more to do with me.”

Then, on the evening of July 13, Mary said she received a lengthy message from her son’s cellphone number, saying that he had been drugged and was in hospital in Kuruman.

According to Mary, Gershwin never referred to her as “mamie”, as appeared in the text, further raising her suspicions.

“I went back to the police immediately and they referred me to the people who handle missing persons, who took the report.

“We called Kuruman Hospital and were informed that no such person had been admitted.”

The VW Polo was found in New Park the following day (July 14).

Mary added that she kept receiving text messages from Gershwin’s phone, requesting that money be transferred, until the day that the Polo was found.

“Most (of the text messages) were sent to my phone and they sent my grandchild’s mother an FNB account number, saying the money must be deposited or sent via e-wallet.

“When Gershwin asked for petrol, I understood, but when he became quiet, I started to wonder.”

While Naledi Kgadiete, 28, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after being found guilty of kidnapping, assaulting and murdering Gershwin, the three accused currently before the court were implicated in the crime after Kgadiete turned State witness.