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New mom’s death: State’s case flounders

Cape Town - Fat, short and fair: this was the witness description police had to go on when searching for the killers of a young mother on her way to her first day of work after maternity leave.

Leslyn Mentor, 26, was killed when her taxi was hit by 13 bullets in Retreat in January. The driver, who was the target of the gang-related shooting, was also killed.

Murder accused Ashwin Mentor at the Wynberg Magistrate's Court. Photo: Jason Boud. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Ashwin Mentor, one of the men accused of her murder, applied for bail in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. The pair are not related.

The families sat at opposite ends of the same bench in court.

In Ashwin’s affidavit, it was stated his brother is terminally ill with cancer. His father had had to quit work to care for him full-time, leaving Ashwin with the responsibility of earning money for the family.

He survived the car crash that killed his biological mother when he was just a few months old.

Ashwin laughed, shook his head and winked at his stepmother in court as the State’s case floundered.

Investigating officer Detective Lieutenant Loganathan Chetty arrested Ashwin based on information from an “informant”.

He then questioned Ashwin despite his selecting the “remain silent” option on the police form.

Chetty conducted an identity parade including photographs of Ashwin without the permission of his lawyers or the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Chetty also could not produce statements from witnesses taken at the scene of the crime, and relied on cellphone data which placed Ashwin vaguely in the region of the crime.

Libby Mentor, cousin of Leslyn, told the Cape Argus her family was taking strain.

“It’s still very raw. I still can’t accept it. Leslyn’s mother can’t face these guys so she doesn’t come to court.”

But Libby said baby Lesray remained unaware of her loss, and had been showered with donations and support since her mother was killed.

Her anger was evident as she pointed out that Ashwin’s mother died when he was young - and now he was accused of inflicting that same pain on another young child.

“That baby is growing up without a mother,” Libby said. “Ashwin went through the same thing.

“If he’s innocent as he says he is, we will have to make peace with it.”

Judgment on the bail application will be handed down on Monday.

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