Cape Town-130404-Cape Town Reg 31: Trial of Grant Smith (IN PIC) on City Bowl Armed Response case. Investigating officer Mike Barkhuizen going to testify and close State's case-Reporter-Jade-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Cape Town - The man who lifted the lid on an alleged plot to kill an owner of City Bowl Armed Response has testified that he had been asked to arrange a hitman.

Ettienne Lochner, a former armed response officer at the company, took the stand in the Cape Town Regional Court on Thursday.

He testified against his ex-boss, Grant Smith, who is on trial for allegedly conspiring with his lover, Joanne Neethling, to kill his then business partner, Alan Kusevitsky.

Lochner told the court that he and Neethling, who was a paramedic at the company, had worked together on various shifts around the time of the plot.

Neethling approached him on November 20, 2008, to find out if he knew of someone who would hurt or kill another person.

He understood that she was looking for a hitman and asked for time to arrange someone.

The going rate for a hitman was between R12 000 and R25 000, according to Lochner’s statement, read out in court.

Later, Lochner and Neethling met again.

“I told her over and over when she pestered me to get the thing going. I told her what would happen if the plan went skew. I said Kusevitsky had children and there were serious consequences for her,” Lochner said.

But Neethling, who confessed to her role in the incident, insisted.

“After I told her that a person had been arranged and the money was fixed, she told Grant, while I sat in the car (next to her), that he must get the money,” Lochner said.

A few days later, Lochner SMSed Kusevitsky to tell him that there was a hit out on him. Kusevitsky called him and they went to the police.

Neethling was arrested on December 4, 2008, when she handed a deposit of R15 000 for the hit to undercover police officers.

She later pleaded guilty to helping Smith plan the hit. After a plea bargain with the State in which she agreed to testify against Smith, she was sentenced to three years in jail.

Smith’s lawyer, William Booth, put it to Lochner that Neethling had asked him to damage both Smith’s Audi and Kusevitsky’s bakkie a short while before the incident.

“So she asked on behalf of herself and not someone else?” Booth asked.

Lochner agreed.

Smith has denied any involvement in the murder plot.

The defence is set to call its first witness on Friday.

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Cape Argus