CITY ‘HIT’: HUS­BAND BAF­FLED

Cou­ple’s mar­riage happy, says lawyer

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - CARYN DOLLEY

A KE­NIL­WORTH busi­ness­woman and her hus­band, a cou­ple whose close bond gave friends com­fort, ap­peared over­joyed about four years ago when she fell preg­nant with their first child.

Af­ter the birth, their en­thu­si­asm for their baby son and their re­la­tion­ship didn’t seem to wane.

But this week any idyl­lic im­pres­sions sur­round­ing the nine-year mar­riage of Petina Coet­zee, 44, and her hus­band Austin, 66, were shat­tered.

On Tues­day, Coet­zee was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of plot­ting to have her hus­band killed. The mother of three, who ap­peared briefly in the Wyn­berg Mag­is­trate’s Court on Thurs­day, is be­ing de­tained in Pollsmoor un­til Mon­day, when she is ex­pected to ap­ply for bail.

Her hus­band, mean­while, is said to be dumb­founded by his wife’s ar­rest and is try­ing to fo­cus on their child, a son of 3, and her two other chil­dren, aged 16 and 20.

“He’s feel­ing very vul­ner­a­ble,” said Ge­of­frey Carter, a fam­ily friend of 15 years and the hus­band’s at­tor­ney. “He’s sim­ply a tar­get.” Austin was not yet pre­pared to speak di­rectly to the me­dia.

“We’re all flab­ber­gasted… I’m more flum­moxed. I’m dumb­founded.

“She’s a lovely lady,” Carter said, re­fer­ring to Coet­zee and her ar­rest.

He de­scribed his friends’ mar­riage as hav­ing come across as “very, very com­fort­ing”.

“There was great ex­cite­ment when Mrs Coet­zee fell preg­nant,” he said.

Coet­zee, who was in­volved in the pho­tog­ra­phy in­dus­try, mar­ried Austin early in 2007.

“I did their mar­riage cer­tifi­cate. I was with them through the birth of their first child. There was so much ex­cite­ment,” Carter said.

“Then there was ( Austin’s) re­tire­ment.”

Carter and his part­ner had din­ner with the cou­ple ear­lier this year.

They hadn’t no­ticed any­thing amiss or picked up on any un­der­ly­ing ten­sions.

“There was no lack of love,” Carter said.

Yes­ter­day some pub­li­ca­tions re­ported a friend of Coet­zee say­ing she may have been abused.

Carter said it was to be ex­pected all sorts of ru­mours would now emerge.

The al­leged mur­der plot was foiled on Tues­day.

Po­lice spokesman Cap­tain Fred­er­ick van Wyk said in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­gan when po­lice were tipped off.

Mem­bers of the pro­vin­cial de­tec­tive unit, as well as of­fi­cers from the Ma­nen­berg se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent crimes in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit, started a joint probe af­ter learning of the pos­si­ble mur­der con­spir­acy.

A st­ing op­er­a­tion fol­lowed at 10.10am on Tues­day at the park­ing area of the Lans­downe train sta­tion.

“A woman handed over an undis­closed amount of cash – said to be about R200 000 – to would-be hit­men to have her hus­band as­sas­si­nated,” Van Wyk con­firmed. Coet­zee was then ar­rested. Res­i­dents who wit­nessed events at the sta­tion posted some photographs on so­cial me­dia.

An im­age posted on Face­book showed two men ly­ing flat on the ground with their hands be­hind their backs.

This week Van Wyk de­clined to com­ment on what had hap­pened to the al­leged hit­men in the mat­ter.

“The finer as­pects of our in­ves­ti­ga­tion can­not be dis­closed at this stage as it is re­garded as sen­si­tive, and part of a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said.

Week­end Ar­gus un­der­stands the al­leged hit­men could be­come State wit­nesses. Sources close to the case said dra­matic rev­e­la­tions would sur­face at a later stage.

caryn.dolley@inl.co.za

Petina Coet­zee is ac­cused of plot­ting to have her hus­band, Austin, killed.

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