Tough bail conditions for Henning

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Nico Henning, the husband of murdered Pretoria mother Chanelle Henning, appears at the Pretoria Magistrate court.

Pretoria - The Pretoria Regional Court outlined a list of strict bail conditions for murder accused Nico Henning after granting him R10 million bail on Tuesday.

“I have received a request to extend the date by which you must furnish the guarantee and surety to the sum of R9.7 million,” chief magistrate Desmond Nair said.

“Your application for bail is granted, and bail is fixed at an amount of R10 million constituted as follows: a cash amount of R300 000 - in addition R9.7 million for which you will furnish a guarantee with sureties.”

He extended the deadline for the provision of sureties to January 20, after initially setting the date at December 20.

Henning is charged with murder and conspiring to murder his estranged wife Chanelle Henning, 26. She was shot dead shortly after dropping off their child at a creche in Faerie Glen, Pretoria, in November 2011.

The 47-year-old had to report to the Hartebeespoort police station on Mondays and Fridays, was not allowed within a kilometre of any international point of departure, and had to get permission from the investigating officer, Captain Petrus van der Spuy, to approach any of his private aircraft.

Henning was not allowed to leave Gauteng and North West without prior approval of the investigating officer.

He was prohibited from having any contact with a list of potential witnesses, including Andre Gouws, Ambrose Monye, numerous Henning family members, and employees of Avis car rental.

The matter would be back in court on January 20.

Earlier, Nair said he had considered, but not agreed with, some of Van der Spuy's reasons for opposing bail.

He had submitted that Henning might flee South Africa to evade trial, conceal or destroy evidence. Van der Spuy alleged Henning was selling some of his properties and aircraft.

“The accused had a period of almost two years to not only destroy evidence, but carefully plan his escape. The accused has plus or minus 27 properties, and the accused has admitted that he is in the process of selling some of the properties, but not all,” said Nair.

“I am alive to the fact that Mr Gouws has been described as a murderer, perjurer, and a liar. It implies that even if he does proceed to testify, there are no guarantees in that regard,” Nair said.

Gouws, 49, who was convicted of killing Chanelle Henning, testified during sentencing proceedings that Henning paid him R1m to carry out the hit so he could get custody of his child.

Henning handed himself to the police in Villieria, Pretoria, on Friday, December 6, following Gouws's testimony the previous day.

“A greater level of caution must be applied to his (Gouws's) evidence,” Nair said.

“The State’s case rests on circumstantial evidence. Indeed there are many missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. What I find noteworthy is that in the absence of the sudden indication by Mr Gouws of the accused’s complicity, the State could not successfully arrest the accused for almost two years.”

He said the trial court would have to rely on Gouws's evidence. He described him as an accomplice who chose to plead not guilty and eventually declared Henning's involvement during arguments in mitigation of his sentence.

Given such a scenario, the situation was different from “a clear-cut premeditated murder case based on direct uncontroverted testimony”.

Nair said the State had successfully portrayed Gouws as an unreliable witness, and had secured a conviction against him and his co-accused Monye, a former Nigerian Olympic athlete.

“I cannot ignore the address to the court by advocate (Piet) van Wyk (for Henning) that in the trial of Mr Monye and Mr Gouws, the State was successful in discrediting the evidence of Mr Gouws, and was successful in showing him to be a liar and a perjurer,” said Nair.

“They now seek to rely on the very same person... to secure the conviction of the accused.”

During his bail hearing, Henning submitted an affidavit to the court in which he refuted Gouws's claims.

Two other men, Gerhardus “Doepie” du Plessis and Willem “Pike” Pieterse, are serving 18-year prison terms after confessing to their roles in the murder.

Sapa


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