CITY ‘HIT’: HUSBAND BAFFLED
Couple’s marriage happy, says lawyer
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.
Petina Coetzee is accused of plotting to have her husband, Austin, killed.