Cop in court for wife’s death

Morn� Croeser, a policeman with the Mountain Rise Dog Unit, appeared in court accused of the murder of his wife, Erica. Photo: Shan Pillay

Morn� Croeser, a policeman with the Mountain Rise Dog Unit, appeared in court accused of the murder of his wife, Erica. Photo: Shan Pillay

Published Feb 2, 2011

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A Pietermaritzburg policeman who was found with a knife wedged in his stomach and who told paramedics that he tried to fight the men who killed his wife, has been charged with her murder.

Constable Morné Croeser 34, claimed that he and his wife, Erica, 33, were attacked by unknown assailants at their home at Msinsi Game Reserve at Albert Falls Dam in August last year.

Friends of the dead woman who were in court yesterday said they were shocked that the policeman had been implicated in the crime.

Morné Croeser was remanded (in custody) until February 8 for a formal bail application and for the appointment of a legal representative.

In a statement to police at the time of the incident, Croeser said the two were returning to their home at about 2.30am when they were confronted by attackers armed with knives.

Croeser was stabbed in the stomach and his wife suffered multiple stab wounds to her chest, neck and stomach.

The Daily News reported at the time that when paramedics arrived on the scene soon after the attack, they found the knife still wedged in Morné’s stomach.

Croeser told police at the time that, despite being stabbed, he somehow managed to get to his firearm and attempted to shoot the attackers.

The assailants then fled, taking nothing from the home.

A neighbour who heard the gunshot alerted the police.

Erica Croeser was declared dead at the scene, while her husband was taken to a city hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Croeser is a member of the Mountain Rise Dog Unit.

His wife worked at the game reserve. The couple’s two young daughters were with their grandmother at the time of the attack.

At the time, police believed that the attack could have been related to a labour dispute, as Erica was a supervisor at the reserve. However, that is no longer the case.

Whether Croeser was stabbed by an assailant will be clarified during the trial.

Some of the couple’s friends who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said they could not believe that Croeser could have been involved in Erica’s death.

“They were such an amazing pair and loved each other so much. This is a nightmare,” said a close friend who asked not to be identified.

Several high profile murder cases recently have been characterised by the alleged involvement of spouses.

The province was shocked last year by the case of Rajive Sewnarain, who confessed to arranging the murder of his wife Shanaaz.

Shanaaz was shot dead by two hit men whom Sewnarain had hired.

Before Sewnarain’s confession, the truck repair company owner told police their rented Hyundai Getz he and his wife had been travelling in was hijacked, that he had been pushed from the car, and that his wife was abducted by the hijackers.

Shanaaz’s body was found in the abandoned car in Folweni. Later, Shanaaz’s family heard in court that the murder was set up to look like a botched hijacking.

And the case involving British national Shrien Dewani has made international headlines.

Dewani’s wife, Anni, from Sweden, was shot when the shuttle the couple were travelling in was hijacked in Gugulethu on November 13.

She was found dead in the back of the abandoned shuttle with a bullet wound to her neck after driver Zola Tongo drove the newlyweds to the township.

The couple were in South Africa on honeymoon.

Tongo said his vehicle was hijacked and he and Dewani were ejected before Anni was driven away and killed.

In a plea bargain, Tongo claimed Dewani offered him R15 000 to organise the killing of his wife.

Tongo, 31, was sentenced to 18 years in jail for murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and perverting the course of justice.

Dewani will appear in court in London this week for an extradition hearing as South African authorities are seeking to have him brought back to the country to stand trial for the alleged contract murder in November.

In another case, Howick businessman Sunesh Manilall and his new wife, Mumtaz Osman, both 37, as well as their accomplice, Victor Mbatha, 31, were jailed for life last year for orchestrating the contract murder of Manilall’s first wife, Monika, on February 3, 2006.

Monika was gunned down in her home in Howick by four men as she carried her youngest child. - Daily News

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