IO searched slain DA man’s phone for clues

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - SANDI KWON HOO CHIEF RE­PORTER

THE IN­VES­TI­GAT­ING of­fi­cer in the dou­ble mur­der and kid­nap­ping trial of slain DA coun­cil­lor Johannes Baatjies and a fam­ily friend, Jef­frey Nouse, com­pleted his tes­ti­mony in the North­ern Cape High Court yes­ter­day af­ter first tak­ing the stand on Novem­ber 6.

Baatjies and Nouse were ap­par­ently lured to a bo­gus busi­ness meet­ing on the road be­tween Daniel­skuil and Post­mas­burg on Au­gust 17 2016, be­fore they were mur­dered.

Baatjies was shot mul­ti­ple times in the head and body while try­ing to es­cape from a mov­ing ve­hi­cle af­ter he was al­legedly kid­napped.

Shot in the face

Nouse was shot in the face and died in hos­pi­tal.

The ac­cused – Richard

Hasane, Tshame Frank Bax­ane, Zonizelo Richard Ma­gawu, Thompson Mnce­disi Mphon­domisa and Matthews Le­godu – have pleaded not guilty to charges of mur­der, kid­nap­ping and the il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a .9mm firearm and am­mu­ni­tion.

Ma­gawu yes­ter­day protested bit­terly about the me­dia tak­ing pho­to­graphs of him and he asked North­ern Cape High Court Judge Pres­i­dent Pule Tlatletsi if he could raise his ob­jec­tion through the court. Court was, how­ever, ad­journed be­fore he could present his ar­gu­ment.

The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, Colonel Dolf Louwrens, stated that he had im­me­di­ately searched Baatjies’ cell­phone when he ar­rived on the scene in Post­mas­burg on Au­gust 18.

“I tried to re­trieve SMSes, What­sApp mes­sages and pho­tos, as I was look­ing for very im­por­tant leads. I made prior ar­range­ments and did not first send the cell­phone to the SAPS cy­ber­crime unit, which is sta­tioned in Kim­ber­ley, be­fore I searched it. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it can take more than a month for cy­ber­crime to com­plete the process,” Louwrens told the court yes­ter­day.

He in­di­cated that an “empty” cell­phone was also found in one of the ve­hi­cles on the scene.

Louwrens said that Le­godu was not will­ing to pro­vide his pass­word for his cell­phone, when ap­proached through his pre­vi­ous le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“At the time of his bail hear­ing, I was not aware of what ev­i­dence could be traced on the cell­phone. The cell­phone was later sent to cy­ber­crime to down­load the in­for­ma­tion. I re­quested them to alert me if there was any­thing that needed to be fol­lowed up.”

The le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Le­godu, Shereen Easthorpe, stated that her client was will­ing to pro­vide the State with his pass­word.

“There was no men­tion dur­ing the bail hear­ing that the State’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion was ham­pered by my client not want­ing to give his pass­word,” she said.

The trial con­tin­ues to­day.

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