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Cape Town - One of the men accused of killing night club owner Bruno Bronn, Frederick Willem John Coetzer, was threatened with death by another accused, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.
This was the testimony of former police official Mervyn Stewart Bezuidenhout, the original investigating officer in the case.
He was giving evidence in the trial of the three men, who have all pleaded not guilty to charges of pre-meditated murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances. If found guilty, they face life sentences for the murder, and 15 years each for the robbery.
With Coetzer in the dock are Fareez Allie and Achmat Toffa. A fourth suspect, Kurt Erispe, turned State witness, and gave his testimony last week.
State advocate Carine Teunissen alleges that Bronn, owner of the gay night club the Bronx, in the Cape Town CBD, was strangled in his Sea Point home on the night of Monday, February 6, 2012.
Bezuidenhout, who is no longer in the police, told the court he received a fax in which Coetzer alleged that Toffa had threatened to kill him if he told the truth about what happened at Bronn's home.
The fax read: “On Wednesday, May 30, Toffa threatened to shoot me dead if I reveal anything about the murder. He said he had contact with two of the State witnesses, whose testimony will be in accordance with what he told them to say. He also said that Allie and Erispe are on his side.
“I was also warned by two inmates at Pollsmoor Prison that I must be careful, because there's a 9mm waiting for me outside.”
Bezuidenhout said he was called to Bronn's home on the morning after the murder, to find Bronn on the floor with a cloth over his body. The premises were teeming with police, he said.
Inside the house, Bezuidenhout established that Bronn's cellphone, car and laptop were missing. At that moment proceedings were disrupted by the ringing of a cellphone in the public gallery.
Judge President John Hlophe, who is presiding, told the culprit, a woman: “Take your cellphone and leave the court and never come back again.”
Bezuidenhout said his first lead was a woman neighbour who had seen Coetzer on the premises the night of the murder.
She knew Coetzer was Bronn's friend, and he had driven away in Bronn’s car on the night, Bezuidenhout said.
Bezuidenhout said he later received information that Coetzer was at his home in Goodwood, with Bronn’s car, and that Coetzer used drugs, bought at an address in Maitland.
Another police official went to the Maitland address and seized Bronn’s cellphone, which Coetzer had exchanged for drugs.
Bezuidenhout said Allie was the first to be arrested for the murder, on Wednesday afternoon, February 8 .
“Allie had been seen in the deceased’s vehicle with Coetzer on the night of the murder, and this information led to Allie’s arrest.”
Bezuidenhout said Allie made a statement, which implicated Toffa as having been in Bronn’s car with Allie and Coetzer.
In his statement Allie also implicated Erispe.
Bezuidenhout said Coetzer was the next to be arrested, on Saturday, February 11 in the Bokaap.
Bezuidenhout added: “An anonymous person phone to inform us of Coetzer’s whereabouts.”
He said Toffa was arrested that Saturday night, and Erispe on the Sunday. Bronn's car was recovered the day that Coetzer and Allie were arrested.
He said Coetzer and Allie blamed each other, but both denied the “act of murder”.
The trial continues on Wednesday.