Was there a third man in Sizzlers massacre?

By Karyn Maughan Time of article published Mar 9, 2004

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A mysterious third party was linked to the Sizzlers murders as the sole survivor - guarded by a man with an automatic rifle - gave dramatic evidence at the trial of the two self-confessed killers.

The victim, identified only as Witness 74, told how former waiter Adam Woest, who he said had led the massacre, made a cryptic cellphone call to an unidentified person about "a lift" he had been expecting.

Woest denies making such a call.

Both Woest and accused taximan Trevor Theys are in custody at Pollsmoor - yet the survivor is in a witness protection programme and was heavily guarded when he entered the Cape High Court on Monday.

One security man sat behind him with an automatic rifle throughout the duration of his evidence, constantly scanning the crowd in the upstairs gallery.

The other plainclothes police took up positions throughout the room, swiftly moving him out as soon as his evidence ended.

Witness 74 - left deaf in his left ear after being shot in the head during the attack - told the court Woest had spoken to an unknown person during the three-hour ordeal of robbery,

torture and murder that rocked the country last January.

The witness, 26, was one of the few Sizzlers masseurs that did not live on the Sea Point premises.

He said Woest had made the mysterious call before he and Theys cut the victims' throats.

Woest was apparently attempting to find out about an expected "lift". When the lift failed to appear, the witness said, Woest became increasingly agitated, opening the buttons on his shirt and sweating profusely.

He said he thought Woest was angry "because they did not find at Sizzlers what they had wanted".

At one point, he heard Theys tell Woest to "relax" and "calm down".

Both Woest and Theys originally pleaded guilty to the murders of Sizzlers owner Aubrey "Eric" Otgaar, masseurs Sergio de Castro, Marius Meyer, Travis Reade, Timothy Boyd, Stephanus Fouché, Johan Meyer, Robert Visser and client Gregory Berghaus as the trial began.

But their pleas were entered as not guilty after each identified the other as the instigator of the attack.

Both allege the murders were carried out because of the accidental shooting of Berghaus after a scuffle with Woest in the kitchen.

They say the motive for the attack was robbery, but that they had escaped with less than R2 000.

Witness 74's account of the events on the night of the killings suggest they might have got away with at least R7 000, cash he had made in Knysna and given to Otgaar to keep in one of his safes.

He said that before asking the men in the Sizzlers dorm room to remove their shoes and binding their hands and feet, Woest and Theys had robbed them of their watches, cellphones and jewellery.

Theys - who has asked to be separated from Woest in jail because of alleged intimidation - was the more "compassionate" of the two men, the witness said.

Woest was "the voice who gave the orders".

He said Theys had stayed with the men in the dorm most of the time throughout the ordeal.

It started when Theys and Woest walked in behind Otgaar wearing surgical gloves and holding guns.

They told the men - except De Castro and Berghaus, who were together in a salon and oblivious of the drama - that they were being robbed.

"Woest was the one that led. Woest was the one that led," he said.

Theys promised the men that they were not going to die. It was Woest, not Theys, who had fired the four shots believed to have killed De Castro and Berghaus, he said.

Woest had also doused the dorm room and the men in it with petrol after he and Theys had cut their throats.

Witness 74 said it had seemed Woest knew Sizzlers owner Otgaar, because he addressed him by his first name and at first they spoke "like friends".

During cross-examination of the witness, Woest's advocate, Mornay Calitz, said his client denied phoning anyone during the attack and also denied knowing Otgaar.

Witness 74 told the court he knew Woest and Theys were planning to kill him and the other victims.

"If people rob a house without balaclavas on, why would they keep us alive?"

Apart from Otgaar and Johan Meyer, who asked to be tied together and were on their backs as a result, Witness 74 was the only man who refused to lie on his stomach when ordered to do so by Woest and Theys.

"If I was going to die, I at least wanted to see it happen," he said.

The witness said his position had prevented him from being more seriously injured when Theys and Woest started slitting their throats - Theys with his own knife and Woest with one of Otgaar's prized steak knifes.

Those lying on their stomachs were stabbed in the back of the necks and the knife was then forced downwards towards the floor.

He told the court Theys had cut the throats of "four or five people", but "with hesitancy".

"I don't think they meant to kill us (at that point), they only wanted to scare us," he said.

After hearing four shots coming from the salon area, the witness saw Woest and Theys return and start shooting the bound men. "They said nothing," he said.

After he regained consciousness - despite having been shot twice in the head - he wandered around the house before going to a nearby petrol station for help.

The case continues.

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