Cape Town -
One of the accused in the so-called Gumtree murder trial was promised money to take the blame for shooting dead a 21-year-old man while test-driving his car, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.
Roekhaina Abvajee said her brother, Soegbudien Abvajee, had phoned her from prison saying the father of his co-accused, Jason Elias, would pay him R150 000 for taking the blame.
Olwyn Cowley was killed in August 2012 after allegedly meeting potential buyers for his BMW, which he had advertised on the Gumtree website.
In the dock are Abvajee, Elias, Shawaal Staggie, Rameez Felix and Elias’s ex-girlfriend Tania Majiet.
The four men have pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated robbery. Majiet has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to murder after the fact. The car was allegedly cleaned at her house after the crime.
Contrary to his plea before court, Soegbudien Abvajee submitted a plea explanation admitting he was the shooter, but said he did it under threat from the other men in the car. “I shot the deceased over the headrest. I did so out of fear for my life.”
When his sister, Roekhaina Abvajee, testified yesterday, she said the four men had met at her house in Athlone before the murder.
She said she had seen the form of a gun under Shawaal Staggie’s jersey, and realised something was fishy.
“I felt in my heart something was wrong,” she said.
The four men left her house at 4.30pm, when they headed for Century City to meet Cowley.
After they were arrested, she received the call from her brother telling her about the cash for blame deal.
Dr Karisha Quarrie took to the stand to describe the gunshot wounds on Cowley’s body. He said the wounds seemed to suggest the shooter had been sitting behind Cowley, pressing the muzzle of the gun to his neck and shoulder.
The trial continues on Tuesday.