Family devastated after young man’s murder case is removed from roll
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Cape Town - Three men accused of beating and stabbing a 30-year-old man to death for his vehicle and then dumping his body at Monwabisi beach have been set free after the case was struck from the roll.
The case was taken off due to evidence such as video footage, the murder weapon and DNA being outstanding while the docket had been misplaced.
The case against the alleged killers and robbers of Craig Douglas, Zandre van Niekerk, Edmonde Hoogbaard and Reagan Smith was removed from the court roll earlier this month in the Wynberg Regional Court.
Weekend Argus confirmed with the clerk of the court that the case was officially removed from the court roll and would be reinstated once the docket had been located and the evidence had become available.
Douglas’ mother, Gail Douglas, has written a letter to the Western Cape police ombudsman, detailing how evidence had allegedly disappeared.
Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority Eric Ntabazalila said the prosecutor could not provide feedback because of a server being down.
The Douglas family said they were outraged that evidence obtained at a garage in Brackenfell of the suspects putting in petrol at a garage including a knife, the murder weapon and docket was missing or misplaced and had been part of the outstanding evidence such as DNA, required for the case to continue.
The trio had been granted bail last year.
Douglas had left his home on November 30, 2019, and had visited a friend in Heideveld.
On his way home, he became disorientated and stopped alongside the road in Athlone.
It was here that Douglas’s killers smashed his car windows while it was locked, beat and stabbed him and placed his body on the passenger’s seat before dumping him at Monwabisi beach.
Gail opened up a missing persons case the very next day and two days later the family found his body at the morgue.
The body had been discovered by local fishermen.
Douglas said the family had faced the sad reality of the case being heard without them being present during lockdown and was at court the day the case was struck from the roll.
Douglas’s husband John said Craig was his eldest son and that on Saturday morning he had a new sound system installed in his car.
“It cost about R7 000. Then he gave me R200 to keep for his petrol the following week (which I still have) and left with R50 in his wallet. When he wasn’t home on Sunday morning, I phoned the friend in Heideveld and was told that he had left their house at about 11.15 pm.”
John said he grew concerned when his son didn’t return as expected and started calling Craig’s phone and various friends who said they had not seen him.
“On Sunday I went to Bothasig police station to file a missing person’s report. They showed me a camera picture of his vehicle’s registration number. The camera had picked it up in Brackenfell about 4am.”
John said the Monday they started calling all the hospitals, and in the afternoon they called the morgue.
“Have you any idea of the heartbreak and devastation that we all felt to find out that he was actually dead? He was only in his boxer shorts. That picture haunts me, all alone and in the pitch dark. What kind of monsters rob you of your clothes?
“My son lost his way coming home, he had been drinking and knew he couldn’t drive. He pulled over to the side of the road and fell asleep.
“We attended the Athlone Magistrate’s Court for the suspects’ bail application hearings a few times. We weren’t allowed to attend as it was a lockdown.
He said they were told by the prosecutor that it would be placed back on the roll once the police had provided all the information.
“I cannot believe what has happened, I am totally gobsmacked.”
Douglas’S cousin, Carryn Westman, said they were devastated by what had transpired and called for the truth and justice. “We have waited so long for this to go to trial, with everything in place, no missing video footage, DNA or whatever else they are claiming is missing
“Will we ever get to hear the truth?”
No police comment was available by the time of going to press.