Durban — The State in the trial against a Newlands East woman, charged with the murder of her husband, argued that while its case was reliant on circumstantial evidence, the accused wife and her lesbian lover had a motive.
Senior State prosecutor advocate Khatija Essack said this when she and the defence were arguing the merits of the case before Acting Judge Murray Pitman ahead of judgment on Thursday.
Mark Buttle was stabbed 53 times in the neck in 2018 while in his car in Newlands East, allegedly by his wife Analidia Dias Bella Dosantos, her lover Teagan Allison Brown, and the two women’s friend Charmaine Margaret Khumalo.
Dosantos and Khumalo stand trial without Brown, who died in July ahead of the trial starting and therefore charges were withdrawn against her.
The three are alleged to have hatched and executed a plan to kill Buttle. An insurance policy is alleged to be the motive behind the murder. Coupled with that, Dosantos, 41, was alleged to have been having an affair with Brown, 25.
“Accused 3 (Dosantos) was the last person in the company of the deceased. Accused 2 (Brown) and 3 (Dosantos) had a motive since Bella moved out of the matrimonial home to pursue their own love relationship.
“They enquired about a hitman and discussed Bella’s divorce and the insurance policy of the deceased. At the end of January, Accused 2 (Brown) and 3 (Dosantos) were becoming desperate as the lease at Teagan’s premises expired and they were going to become homeless. Conveniently, Bella decided to work on her marriage at this stage and returned home,” said Essack.
Dosantos’s two minor daughters were never a concern or consideration for her to return, she said.
“Accused 3 (Dosantos) was fully aware that Teagan enlisted the assistance of Accused 1 (Khumalo) in fulfilling the plan to kill the deceased. The only inference to draw from the proven facts is that the three planned the murder, staged and fabricated the robbery, and killed the deceased.”
Essack argued that Khumalo fabricated her alibi about being home on the night of the murder; she was also implicated by a State witness whom she had confessed to about the murder.
Dosantos’s attorney, WP Zama, said despite her client’s version being put to the State’s witnesses and the investigating officer that provident or pension benefits only became due and payable to her in terms of dissolution of marriage in community of property, the State elected not to lead any evidence from the alleged insurer to prove whether she stood to benefit from any policy.
“The standard of proof required was that of beyond reasonable doubt, and the only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the State’s failure to lead evidence from the insurer is that there was no such evidence. This is also consistent with the viva voce (oral) evidence of Accused 3 (Dosantos) that her husband left everything to the children,” said Zama.
Legal Aid attorney for Khumalo, Musa Chiliza, said the only evidence that tends to implicate Accused 1 (Khumalo) is the alleged confession or admission allegedly made to her ex-lover, who was a State witness in the trial.
“When evaluating the evidence relating to the confession, the court has to be satisfied that the confession was made freely, voluntarily and without undue influence exerted upon the accused …The crime was committed in February 2018, the witness claims that Accused 1 (Khumalo) confessed to her days later. The witness did not disclose this alleged confession to anyone, up until she was approached by the police in the middle of 2021,” said Chiliza.
He said when the alleged confession was made, they were in a relationship and it ended sometime in 2019. The reasons and the circumstances under which the relationship ended are in dispute.
“It is submitted that this alleged confession is dangerously unreliable, the court must not attach any weight to it.”
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