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Tattoo a mystery in De Jager murder trial

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Johannes de Jager in the Western Cape High Court. File photo: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - The pathologist who inspected 16-year-old Charmaine Mare's body never found a heart tattoo near her pelvis, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Johannes Christiaan de Jager, 49, previously testified that she showed him the tattoo while they were sitting on a bed at his home in January last year, three days before her death.

He has pleaded not guilty to killing the Mpumalanga resident. He has also denied raping and killing prostitute Hiltina Alexander, 18, in Cape Town in May 2008.

He testified last week that Mare pulled her pants down and showed him a tattoo of a small heart with “Nikita” in it, near her panties.

He alleged that the following evening, she revealed she was a lesbian, had previously been raped, and did not have a boyfriend.

This was put up as an explanation for why she brushed off De Jager's sexual advances.

On Monday, prosecutor Romay van Rooyen asked him whether the tattoo being revealed had been surprising.

“Yes it was, and for me it was also a bit daring,” he testified in Afrikaans.

He said she was not shy and he did not reprimand her for showing the tattoo.

Van Rooyen said the pathologist did not mention the second tattoo.

In the pathologist report in Sapa's possession, Dr Celeste Joanette de Vaal had noted a tattoo of a star and a birthdate on Mare's left wrist.

Under the heading 'dismembered body of a juvenile female', no tattoos were noted.

De Jager was adamant the tattoo had existed and said the pathologist either missed it or it had burned away when he set Mare's torso alight.

He did not remain at the fire to see what happened to her body.

“Well, if the pathologist did not find it, it must have been burned away,” he said.

The court heard that before Mare went to bed that evening, she showed the tattoo, and De Jager made a joke with her.

“I made a joke with her that she must not sleep so late and if she doesn't get up [the next morning], I would jump into the bed next to her,” he said.

Mare did not say anything but laughed, according to him.

Van Rooyen said it was strange he would joke like that when the two did not have a romantic relationship. He could have simply said she must get up earlier, she said.

De Jager replied that he had tried that approach but it did not work.

She asked why he would sit on the bed with a 16-year-old “girl”.

“It was at the foot end [of the bed]. I was not sitting next to her and there were no chairs in the room,” he replied.

Van Rooyen wanted to confirm that he had no intimate or romantic intentions.

“That's correct,” he said.

Sapa


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