They killed Henning, but why?
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Pretoria - ‘We all know what the truth behind the murder is,” Sharon Saincic, mother of murdered Chanelle Henning said shortly after Andre Gouws and former Nigerian Olympic athlete Ambrose Monye were convicted of her daughter’s murder.
Pretoria High Court Judge Johan Kruger has rejected as lies Gouws and Monye’s evidence that they had no knowledge of the killing. He said this was a clear-cut case of a contract killing. “If ever there had been a case where direct intent (to kill) existed, this is such a case.”
Judge Kruger did not pronounce on Monday on the motive for the killing. Why Chanelle Henning died remains unexplained. The judge said the name of Chanelle’s estranged husband, Nico Henning, had come up during the trial.
He referred to Monye’s having refused at one stage to leave the holding cells to come to court before he had seen Nico “eye to eye”, and asked why he had not been in court for the past two years, yet his wife had been killed.
It was, however, clear that Nico Henning and Gouws had been friends for many years. The court also heard that Chanelle and Nico’s marriage had been in difficulty for many years. This resulted in a contested divorce that dragged on in court. The custody of their child, then 4, was one of the contentious issues and the subject of many court orders, the judge said.
Gouws testified that he had agreed to assist Nico in his custody battle through surveillance of Chanelle. The surveillance mainly pertained to the time before she moved to Faerie Glen, where she was murdered on November 8, 2011.
After his arrest, Gouws also told someone to “tell Nico that he (Gouws) would not talk”.
“But the fact of the matter is Nico is not an accused, nor a witness. He had no opportunity to reply or explain the allegations against him,” the judge said. He added that it would be mere speculation to comment on these allegations.
The judge said, however, that Nico must have been aware that Gouws kept Chanelle under surveillance. “I will refrain from commenting on Nico’s involvement, apart from what constitutes common cause,” Judge Kruger said.
Asked by the Pretoria News whether the State was going to take any action against Nico, prosecutor Gerrie Nel commented: “We are first focusing on this case. We will then see.” Nico remained absent from the trial.
Sharon Saincic said “everyone knows who is behind the murder” and commented that the court’s stance was understandable at this stage.
“We all know Andre (Gouws) did not act alone. We know that.”
She and her husband, Ivan, were happy about the conviction, Saincic said.
“At least two big criminals are off the streets. It will not bring Chanelle back, but at least a lot of other people’s lives will be spared.”
Sharon said she and her husband hoped the court would hand down a life sentence, without the option of parole.
She said Chanelle’s son missed his mother a lot and they were helping the child through this difficult time through prayer.
Judge Kruger accepted the evidence of Chanelle’s other two killers – Gerhardus du Plessis (who pulled the trigger) and Willem Pieterse, also known at Tattoo (who drove the getaway motorbike). The pair were sentenced to 18 years each after confessing to the killing last year.
The judge said the only reasonable conclusion was that Gouws wanted Chanelle killed and he got Monye to obtain the services of men willing to murder. Monye found Du Plessis and Pieterse and gave the latter R600 to obtain a gun. Monye then asked Du Plessis if he was willing to kill and when the answer was yes, he was satisfied that he had his men.
“Gouws was thus the instigator and Monye supplied the men… Gouws provided them with the details.”
The judge said Monye did not have the details regarding Chanelle to execute the murder on his own. When the four met six days before the killing, each knew what was going to happen and what had to be done. “Pieterse and Du Plessis were the executioners and acted on the instruction of Gouws who showed them where the murder was to take place.”
On the morning of November 3, 2011, the “executioners” and Monye met in a flat in Sunnyside. The man known as the “drug lord of Gauteng” inspected the weapon, gave it back to the two and told them “let’s go and do it”.
The pair could not find Chanelle. A meeting at a pizza outlet followed, where Gouws gave them additional information. It was agreed the hit would take place on Monday, November 8, as Nico had told Gouws that Chanelle had the child for the weekend.
Cellphone records showed that Pieterse phoned Monye after the killing to tell him they had been successful. Monye phoned Gouws, who later that day handed him R44 000 for his services. Monye later dubbed Du Plessis “killer boy”.
When confronted by the police about the killing, Monye and Gouws remained mum. This showed they did not want the “executioners” to be questioned, as they wanted to protect themselves. “They had a lot to hide and a lot to fear from the police,” the judge said.
Evidence uncovered what happened when Chanelle was shot shortly after 7am after dropping her son at a crèche, but the motive remained unknown.
Sentencing procedures will start on Wednesday.