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Message links suspect to victim

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The incident happened a day before Baatjies was due to be sworn in as a councillor at the Kgatelopele Municipality

Lieutenant-Colonel Rudolf Lourens

CELLPHONE technology led to the arrest of one of the suspects in the murder and kidnapping trial of Democratic Alliance Danielskuil councillor, Johannes Baatjies and Shuping Nouse.

Baatjies’ body was discovered along the Postmasburg and Groenwater road on August 18 2016 after he was lured to a bogus meeting to discuss a R800 000 paving tender which was apparently promised to the deceased.

The incident happened a day before Baatjies was due to be sworn in as a councillor at the Kgatelopele Municipality.

Nouse, who accompanied Baatjies to the bogus meeting, was shot in the face and died in hospital on August 23 2016.

The Northern Cape High Court yesterday heard testimony from Lieutenant-Colonel Rudolf Lourens, who is attached to the Hawks office in Kimberley. According to Lourens, during the investigation into Baatjies’ murder, he discovered a cellphone number on Baatjies’ personal phone of someone who had contacted the deceased.

Lourens, who is an expert in cellphone technology investigations, said he had obtained the necessary paperwork to access Baatjies’ cellphone records.

“On August 18 2016, I was told about an investigation into a matter in Postmasburg. I was informed that it involved a body that had been found along the road and that another person had also been wounded, but was still alive.

“I went to Postmasburg the same day, accompanied by two of my colleagues. At that stage I did not know the exact spot where the body had been found and went to the detectives’ offices. There I met the wife of the deceased, Dorah Baatjies, and I interviewed her.

“I was informed that her husband’s body had been found in Groenwater. She told me that her husband was contacted by someone the previous day, and he was supposed to meet him at the Kolomela Hub in Postmasburg.

“I obtained her husband’s cellphone number from her. Upon further inquiry I found that the both Baatjies’ and Nouse’s cellphones had not been stolen during the incident. I was later informed that Baatjies’ double cab Ford Ranger bakkie had also been found in an open veld next to the school. I immediately excluded robbery as a motive for the incident as the bakkie and cellphones were not taken,” he said.

He said he requested Baatjies’ cellphone from another police official.

“I switched on the cellphone and there was a message sent at 2.13pm on August 17 2016. The sender was saved as “Werk by ‘* man” on the cellphone. The sender of the message told Baatjies that he would give him the job, but that he (the sender) must get 10% and that the agreement must remain between the two of them.

“The SMS also instructed the deceased to come alone as the information could not be revealed to anyone else. The person then stated their name as Jonathan at the end of the message.”

Lourens said that he went through the phone and noticed that the number had been stored with a (+27), adding that this was an indication that the person had made contact with deceased by calling him.

He testified that he regarded the message on Baatjies’ phone as very crucial in the investigation and returned with the cellphone to Kimberley the same day.

“I immediately prepared my statement to get information from the cellphone network the deceased was using. I also managed to get a Section 205 declaration authorised by a magistrate. The documents were sent to me the same day by the cellphone network.

“I could see from the documents that the handset used to send the message to the deceased was a Nokia N70. I further found that there were two other numbers that were used inside the same Nokia N70. One of the numbers was registered (Rica) in the name of accused three, Zonizelo Richard Magawu.”

He said the second number was registered on another cellphone network and he decided to punch that number into his personal phone.

“When I put the number in, I saw that the number already existed on my phone and that on August 15 2016 I had received a call from that number, which I had saved on my phone as ‘Ash’. I remembered that I was busy with another, unrelated investigation on August 15 and a suspect in the matter asked to use my phone to call someone.

“Shortly afterwards the number called me. I stored the number as Ash as the name of the person who used my phone was Ashley. I then went into WhatsApp and found a picture of Magawu on the number I had saved as Ash. I saw that the person was last active on WhatsApp on August 6 2016. At that stage Magawu was known to me, but in connection with an unrelated matter,” he said.

Lourens told the court that he decided to head back to Danielskuil the same night.

He said he went to Magawu’s house on August 19 2016 but he was not there. Magawu’s girlfriend, who was at the house, told him that she did not know where he was, but said that he was using a vehicle belonging to Matthews Legodu (accused number five).

Lourens then went to inquire from Legodu if he knew the whereabouts of Magawu, but he was again unsuccessful. He said while he was at the scene of the crime, he got a call that Magawu was at the Danielskuil Police Station.

“I left one of my colleagues at the scene after we had discovered a big pool of blood and a projectile inside the pool of blood. I went to the police station and told Magawu that we knew each other. He did not at first want to make a statement but was adamant about telling me his whereabouts on August 17 2016,” he said.

Lourens said although he told the accused that he was arresting him for the murder of Baatjies, Magawu showed no reaction.

He said Magawu did not want to make a statement but told him that he had lost his phone the previous Wednesday or Saturday. Magawu said he had been out drinking with friends on the night of the incident and that he had heard from the municipal manager at the community hall that Baatjies had been killed.

Lourens said Magawu was uncertain of the dates of the incident and the announcement. He said upon asking Magawu what phone he used, the latter informed him that he used a Mobicel cellphone, but that he had also lost it.

The trial continues today.