‘State’s Gumtree murder case weak’

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Independent Newspapers

The five people accused of killing 21-year-old Olwyn Cowley in the so-called Gumtree murder case. Picture: Henk Kruger

Cape Town - Three of the five people accused of killing 21-year-old Olwyn Cowley in the so-called Gumtree murder believe the State’s case is so weak that they want the court to dismiss some of the charges against them.

Jason Elias, Shawaal Staggie, Rameez Felix, Soegbudien Abvajee and Elias’s former girlfriend, Tania Majiet, appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday in connection with Cowley’s death.

Elias, Felix and Majiet brought a discharge application in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Cowley was 21 when he was killed in August 2012 after meeting potential buyers of his silver BMW 325i, which he had advertised on Gumtree.

He was shot while accompanying them on a test drive.

Within hours of the murder, Elias approached police in Mitchells Plain and pointed out the body, gave them information about the illegal firearm used in the incident and made a statement.

The men have pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated robbery, while Majiet has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to murder after the fact.

The State alleges the BMW was cleaned at the home of Majiet after the crime. Her lawyer argues that Majiet was not home at the time.

The State says they acted in common purpose in the murder of Cowley.

Majiet has denied having any knowledge of the murder plot.

William Booth, for Elias, applied for his client to be discharged on two counts - possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Mornay Calitz, for Felix, argued that his client should be acquitted and discharged on the charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Lawyer Susanna Kuun, representing Majiet, handed up her argument in papers. She brought the application on all counts, but the State has questioned how Majiet came to be in possession of Cowley’s cellphone.

Kuun argued that, based on the testimony of witnesses, it appeared that Majiet was not at home when the cellphone was delivered to her house and when the car was washed.

She said there were no witnesses to verify Majiet had any knowledge that the crimes were committed.

Kuun added that it was never disputed that Majiet had received the phone from one of her children or that one of her children had put in a different SIM card. Months later, Majiet had sold the phone to her sister, which led to her arrest.

She said from the start that she knew nothing about the murder or the robbery.

Abvajee has pleaded guilty to murdering Cowley. He submitted a plea explanation stating that he shot the young man, but said he did this under threat from the other men in the car. He has also pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, culpable homicide and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Judge Anton Veldhuizen is to rule on the discharge applications on Wednesday.

Cape Argus

 

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