Deadly on­line ‘hook- up’

Mar­ried ‘swingers’ ar­rested for mur­der

Post - - Front Page - LO­GAN GOVEN­DER AND CANDICE SOO­BRA­MONEY

AMAR­RIED cou­ple seek­ing fun times with strangers they met on­line got more than they bar­gained for at an al­leged drug and al­co­hol- fu­elled swingers party on Her­itage Day – the hus­band was mur­dered and his wife is fight­ing for her life in hospi­tal.

The Phoenix cou­ple they had in­vited to their Red­hill home – a truck driver and a real es­tate com­pany man­ager in their thir­ties – have now been charged with mur­der and at­tempted mur­der.

They ap­peared in the Dur­ban Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day and were re­leased on R3 000 bail each.

In a fur­ther tragic twist to the in­ci­dent, two Crime In­tel­li­gence Unit con­sta­bles who as­sisted with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion were in­volved in a hor­rific road ac­ci­dent just hours later, leav­ing one of them dead.

The deadly fra­cas in the early hours of Fri­day morn­ing is al­leged to have been sparked by the fe­male guest, a mother of two, re­buff­ing the party host’s sex­ual over­tures and him ef­fec­tively hold­ing the cou­ple hostage by grab­bing her hus­band’s car keys.

The names of the par­ties are known to POST but have been with­held be­cause the ac­cused have not yet pleaded.

The host suf­fered wounds to his chest, neck and head af­ter be­ing stabbed, al­legedly with a knife used to cut oranges for tequila drinks. He died at the scene. His wife was stabbed in the neck and the chest and is in a hospi­tal in­ten­sive care unit.

In court on Mon­day the ac­cuseds’ at­tor­ney, Bob Ba­hadur, lashed out at the po­lice for al­legedly tor­tur­ing his clients.

He told mag­is­trate Vanitha Armu that po­lice had poked the truck driver’s gen­i­tals with office pins to force him to talk.

“The man was also poked with the pins on his chest by po­lice who had in­ter­ro­gated them about who was in­volved in the mur­der and at­tempted mur­der, and who had pos­sessed the drugs that were found at the prop­erty,” he said.

“Po­lice also cov­ered the faces and heads of both ac­cused with plas­tic bags and at­tempted to squeeze in­for­ma­tion from them by tight­en­ing the bags around their necks. The woman was also slapped.”

Ba­hadur told the court that the ac­cused had told him that po­lice had hand­cuffed them, even at the po­lice sta­tion.

“When the hand­cuffs were re­moved, po­lice tied their hands and legs,” he said.

“Po­lice bru­tal­ity must cease. Po­lice of­fi­cers who be­have like hooli­gans and thugs must know that their be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated. I have been in­structed to sue the po­lice min­is­ter, the two po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved and their com­man­der for dam­ages in the Dur­ban High Court,” said Ba­hadur.

The court said it had noted the al­le­ga­tions of po­lice bru­tal­ity.

The ac­cused were or­dered to ap­pear again in November.

While there were few de­tails in court about the events lead­ing up to the mur­der, ac­cord­ing to a re­li­able po­lice source, the Red­hill cou­ple had ad­ver­tised that they wanted to meet an­other cou­ple on a lo­cal on­line clas­si­fieds net­work, which con­tained a series of posts for “cou­ples seek­ing cou­ples” or one for “swingers”.

The source said the cou­ples had met for the first time about two weeks ago at the Red­hill com­plex af­ter mak­ing con­tact on line.

They then planned to meet again on Thurs­day evening (Her­itage Day) at around 10pm.

“They were hav­ing drinks like tequila, Hunters Gold and Black La­bel beer. There was also a tin of dagga, Ri­zla pa­per and a card with white pow­der on it, but most of the drug, be­lieved to be co­caine, was al­ready used.

“It is not clear at this stage what re­ally hap­pened, but the fe­male sus­pect, an ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager at a real es­tate com­pany, said she felt un­com­fort­able for some rea­son in the early hours of the next morn­ing.

“She wanted to leave but the home­owner hid her car keys and al­legedly told them no one was go­ing any­where.

“At around 3am, she said the man grabbed her hand and tried to re­strain her. “There was no rea­son why he then pulled her to the back of the house.”

But her hus­band, the truck driver, al­legedly grabbed a knife they had used to cut oranges for tequila and stabbed the home­owner.

The de­ceased’s wife was also stabbed.

Ac­cord­ing to the source, the cou­ple grabbed the home­owner’s re­mote for the drive­way gate and called a tow truck driver to re­move their car from the prop­erty.

They were then dropped off at their res­i­dence in Phoenix.

While all this was hap­pen­ing the Red­hill cou­ple’s two daugh­ters, aged 13 and 8, were asleep in their bed­room.

The chil­dren got up that morn­ing and helped their mother, who had ap­par­ently still not called the po­lice or paramedics for help.

They told her their fa­ther was un­re­spon­sive and the teenager ended up call­ing her grand­mother.

The source said that when the do­mes­tic worker ar­rived, she called the po­lice, who ar­rived af­ter 8am.

Us­ing the home­owner’s cell­phone, they called the Phoenix cou­ple but there was no re­sponse.

Dur­ing the course of the day, the cou­ple sought le­gal ad­vice and their at­tor­ney sub­se­quently called the po­lice in­form­ing them of their where­abouts. They were then ar­rested.

A neigh­bour of the Red­hill cou­ple said they moved into the com­plex about four months ago.

Asked if she no­ticed ran­dom cou­ples vis­it­ing the prop­erty, she said she had not.

TWO po­lice of­fi­cers who as­sisted in the ar­rest of the cou­ple linked to the swingers at­tack were in­volved in a se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent when their un­marked ve­hi­cle, a black VW Golf, over­turned on the R102 in the early hours of Satur­day.

Con­sta­ble Kevin Gopichund, 25, pic­tured, died at the scene and his col­league, Con­sta­ble Vishnu Tikkaram, 25, is in a sta­ble con­di­tion at Umh­langa Hospi­tal.

The pair, who are from Phoenix, were part of the Crime In­tel­li­gence Unit and were sta­tioned at the Inanda and Green­wood Park po­lice sta­tions.

Gopichund’s sis­ter, Jes­sica Mood­ley, said when her brother failed to re­turn home that morn­ing their mother be­came con­cerned and tried con­tact­ing him on his cell­phone.

“A po­lice of­fi­cer an­swered the call and in­formed my mother that Kevin had been in an ac­ci­dent on the R102 near Gate­way (mall). She was told to go to the scene.

“When we ar­rived we started look­ing for Kevin. There were about six am­bu­lances lined up on the road and my other brother ran fran­ti­cally to each one look­ing for Kevin, only to be told he died,” she said.

”We stood at the scene in shock. We were com­pletely shat­tered. We ex­pected to go to the scene and find him in an am­bu­lance just in­jured.”

Mood­ley de­scribed her brother as a kind-hearted per­son who lived to help oth­ers.

“From the time Kevin was lit­tle he would al­ways put the needs of peo­ple be­fore his own. These qual­i­ties drew him to­wards the po­lice force. Af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing from Tre­nance Manor Sec­ondary he worked at a bank, but later left to pur­sue his ca­reer as a po­lice of­fi­cer.”

She said her brother’s proud­est mo­ment was when he be­came a po­lice­man.

“Ev­ery­thing was fall­ing into place for him. His ca­reer was tak­ing off; he planned to go to China next month be­cause he wanted to open his own busi­ness; he was en­gaged to be mar­ried and was in the process of buy­ing a house. We were so proud. Now our fam­ily are ral­ly­ing to­gether to sup­port one an­other.”

Gopichund was cre­mated on Sunday. SAPS spokesman Ma­jor Thu­lani Zwane said a case of cul­pa­ble homi­cide was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by po­lice and that the cause of the ac­ci­dent was un­clear at this stage.

- Char­lene Som­duth

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