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De Jager only guilty of assault: defence

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Johannes de Jager in the Western Cape High Court. File photo: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - Johannes Christiaan de Jager is guilty of common assault for forcefully grabbing a teenager in his custody, his lawyer told the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

“It is conceded that on the accused's own version he cannot escape a conviction on common assault,” Sakkie Maartens said in his heads of argument.

Maartens argued that not only did his client not murder 16-year-old Mpumalanga resident Charmaine Mare, he could also not be found guilty of culpable homicide.

“It is not reasonably foreseeable that lethal injuries could possibly follow as a result of someone violently grabbing and pulling a... teenager off balance in a bathroom.”

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

He previously testified that Mare died in an accidental fatal fall, saying he dismembered her body and set her torso alight in a panicked and shocked state.

Maartens said the court could not make an assumption about De Jager's character based on his decision to cut Mare's limbs off.

“Because he took the foolish route of trying to make everything disappear into thin air, one has the urge... (to say) you deserve to be labelled a murderer.”

Besides previously pleading guilty to dismemberment, De Jager also admitted guilt on a lesser charge of theft of Mare's phone, rather than robbery.

Maartens said there was no evidence to suggest De Jager assaulted or threatened the accused to take possession of her phone.

“It is therefore submitted that theft of the cellphone is the only finding justified by the evidence.”

Acting Judge Chuma Cossie postponed the trial until next month.

“The court will consider the arguments that have been presented and it will adjourn to April 15, 2014 for judgment.”

Sapa


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