Cape Town - Johannes Christiaan de Jager's modus operandi does not fit that of a serial killer, his lawyer told the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.
Sakkie Maartens was disputing the testimony of police forensic psychologist, Brigadier Gerard Labuschagne, who contended De Jager fits the criteria of a serial killer.
The police investigative psychology unit commander had been involved in the investigation of over 110 serial murders and 200
He testified that the modus operandi of white serial killers in South Africa was most often to target black or coloured prostitutes.
“In this instance, on the court's findings, we have a coloured prostitute targeted and a 16-year-old European teenager,” argued Maartens in cross-examination.
Labuschagne replied that the criteria for a serial killer was not a diagnosis and was based on the most common features of convicted killers, but could differ depending on the individual.
De Jager, 49, was last month convicted of killing 18-year-old prostitute Hiltina Alexander in 2008 and 16-year-old Charmaine Mare last year. Both crimes were committed in Cape Town.
Maartens questioned the idea that serial killers were classified as such if committing two or more murders.
Labuschagne replied that the majority of cases he had seen involved two or more.
“In my experience I've been involved in, that usually depends more on how effective police are in catching the individual,” he said.
The defence lawyer attempted to poke holes in his testimony by showing that De Jager had not used one method of killing, as serial killers most often did.
“With Hiltina, the method was clearly strangulation by ligature. And with Charmaine... what I want to suggest to you is that there are no tell-tales whatsoever of ligature,” Maartens said.
Labuschagne agreed that Mare's post mortem had been inconclusive.
The court was presented with his report, based on information obtained from the docket, an interview with de Jager's ex-girlfriend, the indictment, a post-fact visit to the crime scene, and his training and experience.
It was his opinion that serial killers could generally not be rehabilitated.
“Those people who have multiple victims tend to be at a high risk of re-offending... and any sex offender is extremely difficult to rehabilitate since their crimes are linked to their sex drives.”
He said it was only when offenders admitted responsibility for their actions that rehabilitation was possible.
“(It is my opinion) that the accused poses and will continue to pose a real and significant threat to adult females.”
Labuschagne said he would recommend that De Jager receive appropriate psychotherapy from a clinical psychologist while in prison and that a copy of his report be considered should De Jager be up for parole.
Last month, Acting Judge Chuma Cossie found that the State had proved beyond reasonable doubt that de Jager raped Alexander vaginally and anally before strangling her. His DNA was found on swabs taken from under Alexander's nails.
The State had also proven beyond reasonable doubt that De Jager killed Mare, dismembered her body, and stole her cellphone.
During his trial he insisted 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 and burned the torso because he was shocked and confused.
Cossie said the way De Jager burned the corpse indicated a deliberate attempt to conceal the evidence.