Killer Donovan Moodley has made his last desperate bid to have his life term behind bars for killing Leigh Matthews dismissed by lodging a challenge at the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Yesterday, he asked the second-highest court in the land to grant him permission to contest the Johannesburg High Court's decision to dismiss his application for leave to appeal.
After his sentencing on August 4, 2005, Moodley was given 15 days to file his appeal, which he did on August 15. Three months later he withdrew it, saying he was going to ask for a retrial because he had new evidence, wanted to change his guilty plea and would prove who the real killers were.
During his trial in 2005, Moodley admitted to planning and executing Matthews's kidnapping from the Bond University campus in Sandton in July the year before.
He snatched the blonde student the day after she turned 21, held her for several hours, took R50 000 ransom money from her father and then shot her dead to prevent her from later identifying him.
Johannesburg High Court Judge Joop Labuschagne found Moodley guilty of kidnapping, extortion and murder and sentenced him to life for the murder, an additional 15 years for kidnapping and 10 years for extortion.
Last month, four years to the day after Moodley withdrew his original application for leave to appeal, Judge Labuschagne again presided when Moodley asked for leave to appeal against his life sentence.
He claimed that the judge had "committed a material misdirection in imposing the sentence that he did" and described his sentence as "shockingly inappropriate".
The judge ruled that Moodley had failed to give satisfactory reasons why his applications had been filed years after the 14-day deadline had passed. He also ruled that he had not misdirected himself in any way, nor was the sentence handed down "grossly excessive".
Judge Labuschagne, dismissing the granting of a special entry, said: "I am of the view that the application is frivolous, and granting it would be an abuse of the process of court and would lead to an appeal where there is no prospect of success."
Yesterday, Moodley filed another application for special entry, this time with the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein - the last and final route available to him.
In his application, Moodley added to his case by saying Judge Labuschagne also "committed a material irregularity in the proceedings during the conviction" in relation to the guilty plea by failing to clear up discrepancies in his confession.
In papers, he expanded on the reasons he laid out in his original appeal - telling of an unnamed aunt who on several occasions offered to fund his case and then disappeared.
He did not want his aunt to be effected by the "media circus" surrounding his case, and disclosing her identity would harm her business and her "already shaky marriage, as her husband does not want to be involved in my matter whatsoever".
Moodley again expanded on his technical argument as to why Matthews's murder was not premeditated.
In the papers, filed in his private capacity, Moodley included a copy of a handwritten letter to Legal Aid SA asking that it fund his use of advocate Charles Thompson, who represented him last month.
Investigating officer Director Piet Byleveld, the man who caught Moodley, was speechless when he heard about Moodley's latest appeal bid.
"Ag no, man. Is he trying to make a circus out of this? It's ridiculous. I suppose it is his full right to do so, but I can't believe it, and that's all I'm prepared to say," Byleveld said.
Rob Matthews, Leigh's father, said: "I hope the court will view this application with the contempt it deserves."
Moodley now has to wait for a full bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal to rule on his application.
This is likely to happen only in 2011, due to the court backlog. If he succeeds, the matter will go on appeal. Otherwise he will have no option but to serve out his sentence.