A single cigarette butt left at the scene of a robbery and murder has led to the conviction of a 24-year-old man on these charges.
This was the only evidence the State had against Thumelo Monakedi that linked him to the killing of 61-year-old Cornelia Janneke.
Monakedi vehemently denied that he was ever on the dairy farm near Cullinan where Janneke worked and lived, but the cigarette butt proved otherwise.
It was analysed with DNA testing and the results showed Monakedi left it on the scene. The tests were so conclusive that the court was told there was a one in 23 billion chance that the saliva on the cigarette butt could not be linked to the accused.
Monakedi on January 20, 2008, broke into the cottage in which Janneke had stayed and strangled her before taking her cellphone.
He tied her hands and feet behind her back and covered her face with a towel, part of which was stuffed in her mouth. The woman, who had worked at the farm for only five days before the murder, was found dead on her bed the next morning by her employer.
She had come to look for Janneke when she did not arrive for work, and phoned the police. Her cellphone was the only item missing.
The stolen phone led police to Monakedi. He was positively linked to the only clue left behind at the crime scene – the cigarette butt.
Janneke was last seen talking on her cellphone at her cottage on the evening of her murder. Her landlady and employer, Johanna du Plooy, went to check on her when she did not arrive for work the next morning.
The house was in disarray and Du Plooy found kitchen knives on the floor. She called the police, who discovered the body in the bedroom.
The police sent the half-smoked cigarette butt they had found on the crime scene for DNA testing.
Monakedi was located after cellphone records showed he had made a call from the missing cellphone to a number, thought to be that of his girlfriend. The police phoned the number and told the woman to wait for them where she was. Police found the accused, with her, in a street in Refilwe, outside Cullinan.
Monakedi’s explanation for the cellphone was that a friend, who borrowed R200 from him, gave it to him in case he did not repay him.
He claimed he was at home the day of the murder, but Judge Vivienne Tlhapi said the only conclusion following the DNA evidence, is that he had been at the crime scene.
He will be sentenced on August 5. - Pretoria News