“I tried to retrieve SMSes, WhatsApp messages and photos, as I was looking for very important leads"
THE INVESTIGATING officer in the double murder and kidnapping trial of slain DA councillor Johannes Baatjies and a family friend, Jeffrey Nouse, completed his testimony in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday after first taking the stand on November 6.
Baatjies and Nouse were apparently lured to a bogus business meeting on the road between Danielskuil and Postmasburg on August 17 2016, before they were murdered.
Baatjies was shot multiple times in the head and body while trying to escape from a moving vehicle after he was allegedly kidnapped.
Shot in the face
Nouse was shot in the face and died in hospital.
The accused – Richard Hasane, Tshame Frank Baxane, Zonizelo Richard Magawu, Thompson Mncedisi Mphondomisa and Matthews Legodu – have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping and the illegal possession of a .9mm firearm and ammunition.
Magawu yesterday protested bitterly about the media taking photographs of him and he asked Northern Cape High Court Judge President Pule Tlatletsi if he could raise his objection through the court. Court was, however, adjourned before he could present his argument.
The investigating officer, Colonel Dolf Louwrens, stated that he had immediately searched Baatjies’ cellphone when he arrived on the scene in Postmasburg on August 18.
“I tried to retrieve SMSes, WhatsApp messages and photos, as I was looking for very important leads. I made prior arrangements and did not first send the cellphone to the SAPS cybercrime unit, which is stationed in Kimberley, before I searched it. In my experience, it can take more than a month for cybercrime to complete the process,” Louwrens told the court yesterday.
He indicated that an “empty” cellphone was also found in one of the vehicles on the scene.
Louwrens said that Legodu was not willing to provide his password for his cellphone, when approached through his previous legal representative.
“At the time of his bail hearing, I was not aware of what evidence could be traced on the cellphone. The cellphone was later sent to cybercrime to download the information. I requested them to alert me if there was anything that needed to be followed up.”
The legal representative for Legodu, Shereen Easthorpe, stated that her client was willing to provide the State with his password.
“There was no mention during the bail hearing that the State’s investigation was hampered by my client not wanting to give his password,” she said.
The trial continues today.