Thirteen years after she was murdered, police have returned to the shallow grave in which Betty Ketani’s body was encased in concrete, searching for clues to bring her killers to justice.
The 37-year-old waitress disappeared in 1999.
For over a decade, police investigations stalled.
Then, in April, a renovating homeowner in Kenilworth discovered a confession letter under a carpet.
It alleged that Ketani had been kidnapped and shot, and her body dumped in Walkerville, south of Joburg. But she survived and was taken to a hospital in Vereeniging. Her would-be killers again abducted her, forging medical documents, and finished the job.
Her body was allegedly buried in a shallow grave, at the same Kenilworth home where the confession letter was found, and entombed in concrete. But it is believed the cement was broken up five years later and Ketani’s remains were moved to a dumping site in Booysens.
On Monday, crime-scene investigators returned to the scene, digging away in the Kenilworth driveway to expose the grave – hoping to find some evidence to bolster their case against six men arrested in connection with Ketani’s death. With each layer, they paused – 0.5m, 1m, 1.25m – taking photographs and collecting soil samples.
They were searching for the smallest clue – some hair, ripped clothing, a hint of DNA that would confirm the story related in Carrington Laughton’s confession letter. Prosecutors believe the letter is authentic, as every detail it contained has checked out, it has emerged in court.
A scrap of material was bagged, plus some porous pieces of concrete. Maybe the clue they were looking for had seeped inside.
This next step in the investigation comes days before three of the accused – Laughton, and brothers David and Carel Ranger – return to court for a ruling on their bail applications.
Last week, the State argued that the men could interfere in the case if released on bail. Both Ranger brothers are former police officers.
Laughton’s ex-wife Jane testified in an affidavit that her life could be in danger if the men were released after she gave vital evidence to the police. The men are to return to court on Friday.
Co-accused Dirk Reyneke and Paul Toft-Nielsen were granted bail earlier this month. Conway Brown did not apply for bail.