De Jager’s explanations inconceivableComment on this story
Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court convicted Johannes Christiaan de Jager on Tuesday of killing two teenagers in Cape Town.
His version of events leading up to the deaths of 18-year-old prostitute Hiltina Alexander in 2008 and 16-year-old Charmaine Mare last year was wholly rejected as inconceivable.
Acting Judge Chuma Cossie said she was satisfied the State had succeeded in proving De Jager's guilt on raping Alexander vaginally and anally before strangling her.
She accepted an expert's opinion that the type of De Jager's DNA, taken from nail clippings and swabs under her nails, was not touch DNA transferred by fondling his private parts.
The State had also proven beyond reasonable doubt that De Jager killed Mare, dismembered her body and stole her cellphone.
“The evidence tendered clearly indicates that the deceased (Mare) could not have died in the manner described by the accused,” Cossie said.
De Jager, 49, who was described as “insensitive” and “unremorseful”, scowled at the judge's words and pursed his lips.
During his trial, he had stuck to his version that he grabbed Mare in the bathroom last January because she was taking her time and she then slipped and fell.
He claimed she hit her upper body or head on the rim of the bath and never regained consciousness.
He testified that he dismembered her body and burned the torso because he was shocked and confused.
Cossie said the way in which De Jager had burned the corpse indicated there was a deliberate attempt to conceal the evidence.
“The explanation that was given to the court as to why he set the body alight was that he wanted to get rid of the body.
“That is very gruesome to say the least, for a person who had no intention to kill anyone.”
Cossie accepted De Jager's guilty plea with regards to dismembering Mare's arms and legs and a lesser charge of stealing her cellphone.
She said she had taken into account the manner in which he testified, his demeanor and his arrogant attitude to the court, which had bordered on contempt and disrespectfulness.
While he had given a detailed and complete account of what happened in the week that Mare spent with him in Kraaifontein, he had acted completely different in cross-examination.
The court found that he was extremely evasive when the State had asked what his intentions were with the teenager.
“The voice recordings clearly showed he wanted to have sexual intercourse with the deceased. However, he refused to admit it and wanted to lie,” Cossie said.
De Jager had adapted his version of events to make it look as though Mare had seduced him, while voice recordings clearly showed she was unhappy, scared and unwilling to accept his sexual advances.
Cossie said he could not explain, on his version of events, why he did not call for medical help or his neighbours when he realised the teenager was seriously injured.
“Throughout his testimony, the accused had no regard at all for the fact that this young girl had died as a result of a “freak” accident.
De Jager had frequently referred to Mare's corpse as “it”, rather than “her”.
The court found that he showed no respect for the teenager even after she had died and that his actions were inconsistent with those of an honest person.
“It also became clear the accused had every intention to hide the events leading to the death of the deceased.”
Sentencing proceedings were provisionally set down for May 5, to determine the availability of defence counsel.
De Jager's ex-girlfriend Carol White and two of Mare's former guardians, breathed an audible sigh when judgment was handed down and comforted each other.
Speaking after the judge had left the courtroom, ex-guardian Helen du Toit said she was happy with the court's verdict.
“I am very relieved that he got what he deserved and more than that, that he is going to have a hard life in jail.”
Du Toit said she was glad Mare had been vindicated of making any sexual advances to her killer as she had been a shy child and had never even want to bath in front of her.
De Jager would remain in custody at Pollsmoor Prison and receive treatment for an infection in his leg until his next appearance.