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Family tells of ‘fake’ messages

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“From the language in the message we knew it wasn’t from Gershwin. He used to call my mother ‘mama’, not ‘mamie’

IN COURT: The trial against Shaun Carelse, Mamogelo Mocumi, and Boitumelo Matlola continued in the Northern Cape High court yesterday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

“I TOLD my son to come home and he said he was coming.” This was the last exchange that Gerald Swartz had with his son before the young man was brutally murdered.

The murder trial of the three accused – Shaun Carelse, Mamogelo Mocumi, and Boitumelo Matlola – continued in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday with the father and sister of Gershwin Swartz, who was found stabbed to death in a veld on July 16, 2016, recounting the last few days of the 24-year-old’s life.

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 have also been implicated in the crime after Kgadiete turned State witness.

Yesterday, the father of the victim said that he had last seen his son alive on Monday, July 11, 2016, when Gershwin left home in a VW Polo that was registered in his name.

“The following afternoon (July 12) I received a ‘please call me’ from a number that I didn’t recognised,” Gerald told the court. “At that stage, the number was unknown to me, but when I received a second message I responded by calling the number.

Answered

“Gershwin answered and I told him he must come home. He told me that he was coming.”

This was the last exchange between father and son. “His tone (during the phone call) was normal but he never came home,” said Gerald, adding that he had gone to work that evening but returned shortly after 8pm and his son was still not home.

“I asked my wife if Gershwin was home. She told me that he had not come home and that she had gone to the police to report the matter but had been turned away.”

Gerald said that he had started searching for his son the next day after a sleepless night.

“I drove around Colville, Roodepan, Galeshewe and all over in town but didn’t find him or the vehicle.

“Both his phone and the number where he sent the ‘please call me’ from were off at that stage.”

The father said that on a Thursday morning (July 14) he received a phone call from one of Gershwin’s friends informing him that the vehicle had been found in New Park.

Gerald said that while inspecting the vehicle he noticed that the driver’s window was broken, while it also appeared as if the vehicle had been driven on a dirt road and that the suspension had been damaged.

He also noted that different tyres had been put on the car.

“Through the hole for the speakers, I saw a small bag in the boot of the Polo,” he added. “When forensics were finished with the vehicle, the official took out the bag, opened it and found clothing (that didn’t belong to the victim) as well as other items.”

According to Gerald, these items included a ‘Bougroep card’ belonging to Kgadiete, who is currently serving a 22-year sentence for Gershwin’s murder.

Shortly after yesterday’s lunchtime adjournment, Gershwin’s younger sister, Krishana Swartz, told the court that she had been with her mother on the morning of July 14, when they received a call from the same friend that had called her father, informing them that the Polo had been found.

Krishana said that while driving to New Park, she noticed three unknown people, who appeared to be frightened, walking in the opposite direction to where the vehicle was found.

“When I came to court, I was able to identify one of them as Naledi,” she said.

Krishana testified that her brother had been home in the early hours of July 12, before leaving again. She said that she had spoken to him later that day, when he had asked her for assistance.

“He said he was stuck at Elcon and asked if my dad could bring him petrol or money,” said Krishana. “I told him we don’t have transport at home and that there was no money.”

According to Krishana, the following day (Wednesday, July 13) a suspicious message was sent to her mother’s phone from Gershwin’s number.

“It was a long message that said that he had been drugged,” she told the court. “It said that ‘mamie’ doesn’t have to worry as he was okay and had been admitted to Kuruman Hospital.

“At the end, it said that he had found work.

“From the language in the message we knew it wasn’t from Gershwin. He used to call my mother ‘mama’, not ‘mamie’.

“He also already had a good job so why would he say that he had found work.

“Later, my mother received another message telling her to send R1 500 to an e-wallet or through Shoprite.

“That night we reported him missing.”

The trial is due to continue this morning.