Durban - Metro policeman Dayandran “Devon” Govender, suspected of murdering his girlfriend, was released on R10 000 bail on Thursday - and promptly served with a notice of suspension.
Govender, 44, is accused of shooting Rosemary Bell in her upmarket Durban North home, where a scatter cushion, with a hole in it, was found hidden behind a couch, the Durban Magistrate’s Court heard.
Bell, 32, a former taxi boss, was shot on Tuesday last week in the lounge of the home she had shared with Govender and her young daughter.
A senior investigator with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), Ntombi Gibson, said in an affidavit read at the bail hearing that she had returned to the crime scene after interviewing witnesses, one of whom had said he had heard a muffled shot.
Gibson said she had searched for clues and exhibits and had moved the couches and recovered a cushion with a bullet hole. She said there were other cushions in the lounge but this specific cushion with the hole was hidden.
Bell was shot in her lower abdomen.
According to Gibson, witnesses had reported hearing Bell screaming for five minutes and then “all went silent”. It is alleged Bell was trying to end her relationship with Govender and that she had sent him text messages asking for the return of her BMW, and for him to collect his clothes.
Gibson said Govender claimed there was no argument and that he was showing his girlfriend how to dismantle a firearm when a shot went off.
She also said Bell’s cellphone was seized and text messages with her request for Govender to return her car were shown to Gibson.
Bell and Govender’s cellphones have been sent for analysis. Gibson said there was blood on Govender’s clothing, which he had changed by the time Ipid investigators had arrived. The gun used to kill Bell was Govender’s police-issued firearm, the court heard.
Gibson said there was suspicion that Govender was drunk at the time the gun was fired. A blood sample taken from Govender had been sent for forensic analysis. Exhibits were also forwarded to the ballistics unit for examination.
Opposing bail, Gibson said Govender would influence and intimidate witnesses should he be released, as it was evident he had the support of colleagues from the metro police and SAPS.
She said a police officer had charged Govender without the investigating officer’s knowledge and he was taken to court last Thursday. She also claimed the officers had tried to move Govender to the Greenwood Park or Durban North police station without consulting the station commissioners or her.
Gibson considered Govender a flight risk, saying his second ex-wife was living in London with their 10-year-old daughter and that they were in constant contact with each other.
Govender’s attorney, Sunil Singh, told the court that the ex-wife and daughter had since relocated to Egypt as she was now married to an Egyptian.
Govender’s first wife and their daughter, who is currently in matric, are financially dependent on him.
Singh said Govender’s daughter was traumatised by her father’s arrest and his continued detention would cause further distress, affecting her matric exams.
The metro policeman had lived with Bell in Durban North for three years and they had been in a relationship for the past five years.
Govender said they had enjoyed a “healthy loving relationship” and he was emotionally distraught by her death.
“I have requested that a portion of her ashes from her remains be kept aside for me, which has been acceded to, in order that I perform her last rites to help me cope with the loss,” his affidavit read.
Magistrate Vanitha Armu asked Singh if his client was still employed, to which he replied that there had been no directive from Govender’s employer - the metro police - as yet.
However, metro police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi, confirmed the suspension, saying Govender was to have been served with the notice upon his release.
Prosecutor Blackie Swart asked for conditions to be added to Govender’s bail.
The accused is to report to Durban Central SAPS every Wednesday and must hand over his passport.
Govender’s work colleagues sitting in the public gallery clapped when they heard he had been granted bail.
Also sitting among the police officers was Govender’s first wife.
Bell had been close friends with 52-year-old geologist, Louis Venter, who, when he died in 2012, had left her at least three properties - in Durban, Sandton and Saldanha Bay on the Cape west coast.
Govender is due back in court in November.