Pretoria geologist Cobus Prinsloo, accused of hiring his gardener to kill his former wife, Cordelia, said that the day after she went missing, he had continued looking for her until he discovered “the foot of a white woman” sticking out from a flower bed on his Kameeldrift plot.
Prinsloo became very emotional as he took the stand in the Pretoria High Court in his defence and testified how he discovered the body.
Cordelia was murdered by gardener Lucas Moloi on October 12, 2009, when he hit her on the head with a garden spade.
Moloi, who said he actually liked Cordelia, but had killed her as Prinsloo had promised him a house and R50 000 cash, was subsequently sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.
Prinsloo testified on Wednesday that he had been at work as usual on October 12. He had gone to the plot in the late afternoon. He usually stayed in his other house in Montana during the week.
Cordelia, after their divorce, had moved into a cottage on the plot.
Prinsloo’s domestic worker had told him she was afraid of Moloi, as she had seen him that day and there was “something funny in his eyes”.
She had also said that although Cordelia’s car was at home and the radio was playing in her cottage, she was nowhere to be seen.
Prinsloo said he had not paid much attention, because they were divorced, and he had left for his Montana home. He had played golf all of the next day and again returned to the plot late in the afternoon.
He had began to worry when he looked through the window of the cottage and saw that Cordelia’s bed was unmade and the radio was still playing. He could not enter the cottage, as she had a restraining order against him.
Prinsloo phoned his sons to hear whether they had heard from their mother, but they did not know where she was. As she was an air hostess, he phoned the various airlines to find out whether she was perhaps out of the country, but they said she wasn’t on any of the flights.
Prinsloo went to the police station to ask the SAPS to enter the cottage with him. “They at first refused, but I told them I would go to the commissioner, as a woman could be in distress.”
Neither he, nor the police, could find anything amiss in the cottage and Prinsloo asked the cops to help him search the property.
As it was already dark, the SAPS said they would return the next day. Prinsloo decided to search by himself and he fetched his torches.
According to him, he searched until the batteries became flat.
He got up early the next morning and searched further - mainly in the bushes away from the house, as he felt there would not be anything in the garden around the house.
Prinsloo said he had gone around the fence of the property when he suddenly got wind of a bad smell.
“I am a professional hunter and I know the smell of meat going bad. I followed the smell and I saw flies in a flower bed inside the garden around the house.
“I was in shock because I knew something was wrong. I saw the leaves of a delicious monster plant packed on top of the soil. I lifted it up and saw a brown canvas. It was then that I saw the leg of a white woman sticking out,” an emotional Prinsloo testified.
He said he had run to the house and told the domestic worker that Cordelia was dead. He had then gone to Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool, where his sons were pupils, and told them the bad news.
According to Prinsloo, the investigating officer phoned him more than a month later and asked him to come and see him at the police station. “I was at a loss for words when he said I was under arrest for the murder. I never expected this.”
The court granted him permission to return home, as his sons were alone and his eldest was busy with his matric exams.
A proud Prinsloo said that even though it was a difficult time, his son had nearly scored seven distinctions during the exams.