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‘I want to forgive my son’s killers’

141104. left to right: Yvette van der Merwe, left, walks alongside Surita Cowley, middle, the mother of Olwyn Cowley who was killed in August last year while trying to sell a car that he advertised on Gumtree. Surita Cowley's twin sister Anita Hannekom is on the right. Cape Town. Olwyn Cowley's family is leaving the Cape Town High Court at lunch time. The four men on trial in the so-called "Gumtree" murder trial are continuing to blame each other for the death of 21-year-old Olwyn Cowley as the case draws to a close in the Western Cape High Court. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

141104. left to right: Yvette van der Merwe, left, walks alongside Surita Cowley, middle, the mother of Olwyn Cowley who was killed in August last year while trying to sell a car that he advertised on Gumtree. Surita Cowley's twin sister Anita Hannekom is on the right. Cape Town. Olwyn Cowley's family is leaving the Cape Town High Court at lunch time. The four men on trial in the so-called "Gumtree" murder trial are continuing to blame each other for the death of 21-year-old Olwyn Cowley as the case draws to a close in the Western Cape High Court. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Published Nov 5, 2014

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Cape Town - She’s had to sit quietly across from her son’s killers as details of the 21-year-old’s last minutes were documented in the Western Cape High Court.

Now, more than two years since Olwyn Cowley’s murder, his mother, Surita, says she wants to face the men convicted of his murder in the high court on Tuesday, and tell them she forgives them.

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It won’t bring her son back, she says, but it will give her some closure in dealing with the violent death of her only child.

Olwyn’s father died when he was 13.

 Surita Cowley was talking to reporters outside court on Tuesday after three of the four men on trial were convicted on charges related to the murder of her son.

As she spoke, Cowley started to cry. She said she was relieved Jason Elias was refused bail.

She said that when all the court proceedings were over she wanted to face her son’s killers.

“I want to visit them in prison to tell them I’ve forgiven them.”

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Cowley’s body was found in the bushes along Baden Powell Drive on August 31, 2012.

He had been shot in the head during a test drive of the BMW325ti he had advertised on the classifieds website, Gumtree.

Cowley had met potential buyers for the car at Century City when he was murdered.

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Judge Anton Veldhuizen found Elias and Soegbudien Abvajee guilty on all counts including murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

He found co-accused Rameez Felix guilty on a charge of theft and possession of an unlicensed firearm, and acquitted Shawaal Staggie on all charges.

Staggie breathed deeply as Judge Veldhuizen freed him, while his co-accused showed no emotion.

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Elias, who had been out on R10 000 bail for the duration of the trial, attempted to get his bail extended – saying his family could afford twice that amount.

His lawyer, William Booth, said the same strict bail conditions could apply – including house arrest – if bail was granted.

In making a ruling on the bail extension, Judge Veldhuizen said: “The mere prospect of having to serve a lengthy term of imprisonment is, in my view, a very strong incentive for the accused to take to the road.”

He denied bail for Elias, who is now in custody.

Outside court, Surita Cowley said she was happy with the judgment, even though it would not bring her son back.

Daneel Ekermans, a close childhood friend of Olwyn Cowley, was also in the gallery.

“I’m relieved it’s over but it won’t bring his life back,” Ekermans said.

During the trial, it emerged that the day before Cowley was found, Elias had driven his father’s Mercedes and had lunch at Abvajee’s house in Athlone.

The four headed to Canal Walk where they met Cowley at a Shell garage. Elias and Abvajee went on a test drive with Cowley in the BMW, with Abvajee posing as Elias’s father.

During the trial, Abvajee admitted guilt to culpable homicide, and that he had shot Cowley in the head. They parked the BMW in the parking area of the shopping centre with Abvajee’s jacket covering Cowley’s body. Elias and Abvajee left Felix and Staggie behind and went to Baden Powell Drive, where they dumped the body.

During the trial, the men accused each other of the murder. When Elias testified, he said there had been no plan to kill Cowley and he was taken by surprise by the shooting.

The trio are due back in court on November 25, when sentencing proceedings are set to begin.

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