Ex-boyfriend arrested for Knysna killing
THE POLICE have arrested the former boyfriend of Knysna receptionist Shantel Zeelie, almost three years after her mysterious murder sparked a wave of panic and rumour that a new serial killer was on the loose in the Garden Route town.
Zeelie, 28, was killed on January 6, 2009 and her body was found the following day hidden under bushes near a popular viewpoint overlooking the famous Knysna Heads.
Zeelie’s murder came a few months after the conviction of disc jockey Heinrich van Rooyen for the killings of two women in 2005, prompting his family to suggest that he had been wrongfully convicted, and that the “real killer” had struck again.
A spokesman for the family said at the time they believed Van Rooyen had been framed and that there was a cover-up “to protect the real culprits”.
Although the police and the parents of the victims rejected the claims outright, there was little news from the Zeelie investigation until this week, when her ex-boyfriend Eugene Stander was arrested and appeared in the Knysna Regional Court.
Timber dealer Stander, 27, was released on bail of R5 000 after his attorney, Daan Dercksen, submitted an affidavit suggesting that the murder charge, and a charge of rape filed against Stander by another exgirlfriend, were based only on circumstantial evidence.
In the affidavit, Stander said he would plead not guilty.
He said although he was arrested in July on the rape charge only and released on bail of R1 000, “I was at all times aware that I was the focus in the murder investigation” after Zeelie’s death.
Denying the charge after his arrest last weekend, Stander said: “She was my former girlfriend, and I mourn her death. I have the deepest sympathy for her family and friends and I will do everything in my power to clear my name of suspicion…”
He said he had been questioned by the police shortly after the killing and a sample of his DNA had been taken, but he had only been arrested a few years later. “I submit that the State’s case against me is weak. At best it is based on speculation, innuendo and circumstantial evidence.” – Garden Route Media