Durban — The State will be calling about 13 witnesses in the trial of a man suspected of being a serial rapist and murderer operating in the Queensburgh area.
This emerged on Tuesday in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court where his pretrial conference was concluded.
The man’s Legal Aid defence indicated that the accused intended to plead not guilty to all four charges against him – rape, two counts of housebreaking, and one of robbery.
The State said counts one to three emanated from one docket.
“In count one there will be eight witnesses, I have consulted with the victim. In count two there will be three witnesses. The number could increase as the defence has also challenged the chain of evidence. In count four, there will be four witnesses and I have consulted with the victim,” said the State.
The State indicated that it was not in a position to start the trial this year as the presiding officer in Regional Court 3 was unavailable.
“I suggest we start next year because magistrate Hlophe is indisposed and upon his return we are going to deal with his matters, and I don’t want to couple this matter with others. And I’m going on leave and coming back in January.”
The trial is to begin on January 30, then sit again on February 6.
“Should we not finish, it will be rolled over to another Tuesday because Legal Aid defence comes every Tuesday,” the State said.
The accused is now appearing in the regional court, whereas previously he had been appearing in the district court.
While appearing in the district court in August, he was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of rape and house robberies. However, the charges of two murders were provisionally withdrawn while the State continued investigating.
The State has only been able to link him to the four counts he is currently charged with.
The suspect allegedly had made it difficult for police to identify him in the past by removing the evidence at the crime scene and from his victims with sanitiser, to eliminate DNA.
He had allegedly gone to the extent of biting his fingertips to avoid leaving evidence and to make it impossible for police to take his prints upon arrest.
The two murder charges that were provisionally withdrawn against the man related to Malvern resident Evidence Ntombikile Seager, 40, and 72-year-old Savithree Moodley.
In August last year, Seager’s body was found not far from her home. She had been stabbed 12 times in the chest had handcuffs around her ankles, and had allegedly been raped.
Items allegedly stolen from Seager’s home were found on the accused when he was arrested.
Moodley was found murdered in October last year in her home, with stab wounds on her chest.
A month before this the accused allegedly broke into a woman’s home in Northdene, Malvern, where he subjected the victim to grievous bodily harm before raping her.
On Tuesday, Seager’s family, clad in blue T-shirts emblazoned with the words “justice for women”, filled the courtroom.
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