Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

A winning streak brought him R6.7 million when he became the country’s youngest Lotto jackpot winner at 19.

But now, after being convicted for murder and other crimes, Jason “Pang” Canterbury is gambling on freedom.

Convicted three years ago of murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition and defeating the ends of justice for hiding the victim’s body, Canterbury and two others are appealing to the Western Cape High Court to have their convictions overturned.

Canterbury, from Kuils River, was sentenced to 28 years’ imprisonment.

His co-defendants were Russel Johannes and Remo Kuys. Johannes was sentenced to 15 years for murder and the unlawful possession of a firearm while Kuys was sentenced to three years for defeating the ends of justice.

Johannes and Kuys were also granted leave to appeal.

Canterbury, who had used some of his money to buy a house, reportedly squandered the remainder in the drug trade. He was convicted of the murder of one of his drug runners, Henry “No Rules” Stevens, over a dispute relating to drug money.

At the time, Canterbury vehemently denied involvement in conspiring to kill Stevens and said he had only helped to dispose of the body.

On Monday, before a full bench comprised of Judge Yasmin Meer, Judge Dumisani Zondi and Judge Elizabeth Baartman, Canterbury’s advocate, Marius Broeksma, said the State’s evidence during the trial needed to be “treated with caution”.

“It would be easy for State witnesses to say that Canterbury planned it. Even a person who was innocent of murder could be involved in the disposal of a body,” he said.

Judge Meer asked why, if Canterbury was not involved, he not gone to the police. “The evidence should be viewed in its totality,” she said. “Why hasn’t he gone to the police? He .... had a policeman living right next door to him.”

Broeksma put it to her that sometimes even “innocent people lie when arrested, because it was human nature”.

Daniel Theunissen, representing Johannes, reiterated that the State’s witnesses at the time were “problematic”.

“Having gone along for the sick ride of seeing someone killed does not make them a murderer. It’s not an active role in the murder. He might have been dead scared that if he didn’t go along, they’d kill him. It could have been a case of him knowing too much so he had to go along.”

Willie Muller, for Kuys, also questioned the credibility of the State’s witnesses. Pedro van Wyk for the State said it was clear Canterbury played a leading role in the murder. Judgment was reserved. - Cape Times