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Leigh Matthews’ killer Donovan Moodley fails to dodge parole hearing

A file picture of Donovan Moodley, the killer of student Leigh Matthews, in the high court. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

A file picture of Donovan Moodley, the killer of student Leigh Matthews, in the high court. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 27, 2023


Pretoria - The killer of Bond University student Leigh Matthews, Donovan Moodley, has lost his urgent court bid not to have his parole hearing go ahead on Wednesday.

He had said he feared he would be ambushed at the hearing.

Moodley said in his failed application to the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, that the Department of Justice and Correctional Services did not supply him with the documentation it aimed at using during his parole hearing.

This included, according to him, the latest social worker’s report, as well as the latest inputs from the police and Matthews’ family.

Leigh Matthews

Moodley argued the department is in contempt of an earlier court order, which, he claimed, stipulated that he have all the relevant documentation on which the parole hearing was going to rely, by the end of last month.

He said he was given none of these documents.

Moodley earlier turned to the court where he was successful in overturning the decision of the board last year to deny him parole.

Judge Stuart Wilson at the time ordered the parole board to hold a new hearing for Moodley by no later than March 31. It was also ordered that all reports and other documentation necessary for the parole hearing be completed by February 28.

Moodley is expecting to be released on parole after he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005 for the gruesome killing of Matthews and the extortion of her parents, Rob and Sharon Matthews.

As he claimed he did not receive any documentation to prepare him for his new hearing, Moodley wanted the department, the parole board and the head of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre interdicted from proceeding with the parole hearing this week.

This, he said, should be pending a determination of whether they are in contempt of the court order granted in December.

Judge Wilson in his December judgment ordered that Moodley be afforded access to all the material that will be placed before the Parole Board which the latter would consider in determining his fitness for parole.

This, the judge at the time said, should be done two weeks before the new hearing, now scheduled for Wednesday.

Moodley now complained that these steps have not been taken, and that he has not been given access to the relevant material. He argued that the scheduled parole hearing cannot proceed as a result.

He argued that in terms of the December order, a new social worker’s report should have been completed and submitted to the Parole Board and a copy should have been submitted to him.

But Judge Wilson now said he is mistaken. The December order only said that any preparatory steps, including reports, necessary to hold the new parole hearing must be taken by February 28.

The fact that a new social worker’s report was not completed by then can mean only that reliance will be placed on the existing report, which was earlier placed before the Parole Board and which had already been provided to Moodley.

“Mr Moodley accepts that the report that was used at his previous Parole Board hearing has been revised and updated, albeit not as comprehensively and as expertly as he would like. Mr Moodley is free to raise the quality of the report at the March 29 hearing and to address any prejudice the alleged shortcomings of the report have caused him.”

Judge Wilson said his earlier order did not require that a completely new report had to be compiled.

“The social worker’s report that was placed before the Parole Board at the hearing I set aside was a lucid enough document.

“The Parole Board’s failure to explain its departure from the report’s conclusions was one of the bases on which I set aside its decision in Mr Moodley’s case,” the judge said.

Moodley said that at his previous hearing the parole board received and considered written submissions from the family of Matthews, and from the SAPS. He now anticipated that this material would be presented again, and complained that he will be ambushed by the material on the day of the hearing.

Judge Wilson said although they appear to have been given notice of the new hearing, there is presently no indication that Leigh Matthews’ family or the SAPS have produced written submissions for the new hearing.

“If they had, I expect that Mr Moodley would have been given that material.” The judge added that even if they did make submissions, it was up to the Parole Board on how to deal with it in a fair manner.

Thus, the judge said, the hearing this week will go ahead.

Pretoria News