‘...I would set aside the whole of the court a quo’s order and replace it with an order acquitting the appellant’
family to abandon the farming enterprise and have nothing more to do with the deceased. She may also have been worried that Loudine would decamp with Casper, leaving her completely isolated from all her children. The prospect of a life lived solely with the deceased may have pressed down on her more heavily than his cruel treatment of her.”
He stated also that insofar as forensic pathology was concerned, both the doctors who testified, (Dr De la Ray for the State and Professor Loftus for the defence) accepted that the findings were compatible with suicide.
“Loftus went further, saying that the findings were ‘highly compatible’ with suicide, that there was ‘no scientific reason’ to think that the wounds were inflicted by someone else but that he could not exclude the possibility of murder because ‘there are perfect crimes’.
“The medical evidence is compatible with suicide and murder. However, if one assumes for the moment that the first shot was the one that did not penetrate the brain, the agreed conclusion by the two experts that the deceased would have been able to talk, move and fire a further shot is important.”
Judge Rogers pointed out that the State was required to prove the appellant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
“The only part of her testimony where improbability or coincidence really looms is her version about the removal of the nightclothes and her surmise as to how the gloves must have found their way onto the discarded nightclothes. The improbability of her version about the removal of the gloves is not so great as to justify a conclusion that it was false beyond reasonable doubt. I thus think the court a quo erred in convicting her.
“If there is no evidence on which a reasonable person might convict, the accused should be discharged. In the present case, there probably was evidence on which a reasonable person might have been convicted.
“For all these reasons I would set aside the whole of the court a quo’s order and replace it with an order acquitting the appellant.”
Acting Court of Appeal Judge T Gorven (with Appeal Court Judge Azhar Cachalia concurring) concurred with Mbatha that the appeal against the conviction should be dismissed. He added that it was his view that the Koekie’s version was false beyond reasonable doubt and was correctly rejected by the trial court.
“Neither Dr Panieri-Peter nor the forensic experts were able to determine whether the death of the deceased was as a result of homicide or suicide. There are factors which support both conclusions. The answer must be sought in the probabilities.
“All in all, there are far too many gross improbabilities for it to be held that the version of the appellant is reasonably possibly true. It was properly rejected as false.”