Prints tested for first time

SPELL­BOUND LO­CAL DRAMA HISS OF DEATH MONEY MAT­TERS 8 19 24 34 Lotz: min­is­ter ap­peals against R46m dam­ages for boyfriend

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - HEN­RI­ETTE GELDEN­HUYS hen­ri­ette.gelden­huys @inl.co.za

Full 5-day forecast FIN­GER­PRINTS lifted nearly eight years ago from the scene where Matie stu­dent Inge Lotz was killed are to be tested for the first time in an ef­fort to track down who killed her.

The news of the new tests comes as the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) de­cides whether the West­ern Cape High Court was cor­rect in rul­ing that the min­is­ter of po­lice is li­able for dam­ages suf­fered by Lotz’s then-boyfriend, Fred van der Vyver, who was ar­rested for her mur­der and, af­ter a lengthy trial, ac­quit­ted.

Van der Vyver sued the min­is­ter for about R46 mil­lion in dam­ages and won in the High Court. How­ever, the min­is­ter has taken the case on ap­peal to the SCA in Bloem­fontein.

One of the cen­tral is­sues in the ap­peal was fin­ger­prints which po­lice said, dur­ing the crim­i­nal trial, had been lifted from the cover of a DVD Lotz hired – ev­i­dence which placed Van der Vyver at the scene. How­ever, in the light of ex­pert ev­i­dence from the de­fence, it was found that the fin­ger­prints were lifted from a glass, not a DVD cover.

At the hear­ing this week, Ap­peal Court Judge Fritz Brand and Van der Vyver’s ad­vo­cate, Dup De Bruyn, SC, de­bated whether in­ex­pe­ri­enced po­lice sergeant El­ton Swartz made a mis­take or com­mit­ted fraud when he made in­cor­rect en­tries about the fin­ger­prints.

Brand pep­pered De Bruyn with ques­tions about the fin­ger­prints and ap­peared ir­ri­tated with De Bruyn’s replies.

De Bruyn sweated and tapped his feet con­stantly as Judge Brand con­tin­ued to shoot down his ar­gu­ments, or shrug them off as “in­signif­i­cant” or “ir­rel­e­vant”.

Although Van der Vyver’s fa­ther, mother and brother were at the court to hear the ar­gu­ments, Van der Vyver was ab­sent. Bloem­fontein at­tor­ney Jan Jor­daan rep­re­sented Lotz’s par­ents. He said he at­tended the hear­ing so he could give the Lotz fam­ily proper feed­back.

The SCA is ex­pected to make a de­ci­sion in the next six weeks.

Mean­while, news of the new fin­ger­print tests was the main topic of con­ver­sa­tion be­tween peo­ple close to the case dur­ing the past few weeks, since it be­came known that they were found to be suit­able for test­ing.

Week­end Ar­gus un­der­stands that the fin­ger­prints will be tested by dif­fer­ent ex­perts, in­clud­ing at least one for­eign ex­pert, in an ef­fort to avoid a re­peat of the fin­ger­print con­tro­versy dur­ing Van der Vyver’s trial.

Out­side court, the big topic of con­ver­sa­tion was when the test re­sults would be out. One of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors said: “I can just hope we get lucky and get a pos­i­tive re­sult.”

He ex­plained the po­lice had ap­par­ently, “for the sake of con­ve­nience”, never tested th­ese prints pre­vi­ously. “Or if they tested it, they never recorded the re­sults. It’s pos­si­ble they looked at it and reck­oned they don’t be­long to Fred.”

Among the fin­ger­prints be­ing tested were those found on fast food pack­ag­ing and oth­ers be­lieved to have been lifted from a num­ber of items, in­clud­ing the cover of a Shape mag­a­zine found across Lotz’s an­kles when her body was found.

PIC­TURE: CINDY WAXA

AC­QUIT­TED: Fred van der Vyver

KILLED: Inge Lotz on the night of her ma­tric farewell

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