Ex-boyfriend ar­rested for Knysna killing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NEIL OELOFSE

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

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