Cape ‘butcher’ murder trial postponed

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Copy of ca p7 de jager done.JPG INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Johannes de Jager in the Western Cape High Court. File photo: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - Closing arguments in the trial of a man accused of killing two teenagers will take place next week in the Western Cape High Court.

Acting Judge Chuma Cossie on Tuesday said Johannes Christiaan de Jager would remain in custody until his appearance next Wednesday.

De Jager, 49, has pleaded not guilty to killing 16-year-old Mpumalanga resident Charmaine Mare last January, and not guilty to raping and killing 18-year-old prostitute Hiltina Alexander in 2008.

The State closed its case against him at the end of last month.

He took the stand in his defence on February 27 and spent a week telling the court about his version of events.

On Alexander, he denied having anything more to do with her other than picking her up one night in May 2008 for a stranger he met at a pub.

He swore his last sight of her was in bed with the stranger.

Regarding Mare, he testified that she died in an accidental fatal fall in his bathroom and that he dismembered her body and set her torso alight in a panicked and shocked state.

What followed his evidence-in-chief was almost two weeks of cross-examination, in which the State put it to De Jager that he had fabricated the story of the stranger and lied to the court about critical events.

Prosecutor Romay van Rooyen ended the cross-examination on a dramatic note by accusing him of raping Mare and strangling her to stop her from telling anyone.

She also put it to him that he had tried to destroy forensic evidence by burning Mare's body, focusing specifically on her face and pelvic area.

He denied every allegation and was officially excused from the stand this week.

On Tuesday, De Jager's Legal Aid lawyer Sakkie Maartens told the court their case was closed and they would not call any witnesses.

He wanted it placed on record that he had tried to get a forensic pathologist to testify on aspects related to the testimony of pathologist Celeste de Vaal.

De Vaal testified last year on Mare's burnt torso and decapitated limbs. She concluded that Mare did not have any fatal head injuries and her death was due to an unknown unnatural cause.

Maartens said the Legal Aid board only worked with accredited experts.

He had approached three accredited forensic pathologist experts. Two of them had severed their ties with Legal Aid and the third was not available.

“Enquiries were made on my behalf for an alternative option locally,” Maartens said.

Local pathologists had either been unavailable or unwilling to assist him.

He said he had been trying to obtain an expert since November and did not anticipate a change in the situation.

It was in this spirit that he was closing the defence's case, Maartens said.


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