Judgment Day

February 17, 2016

Two years, to the day, after the trial began, Judge Natvarial Ranchod finished delivering his judgment. Carrington Laughton has been convicted of murder, kidnapping and attempted kidnapping. Carel and David Ranger were found guilty of kidnapping and Culpable Homicide. The three are to be sentenced in early May.

A court has now ruled the confession discovered under the carpet is genuine and was written by Laughton. Almost 17 years after Betty Ketani vanished without a trace, her family finally have closure.

Judge Ranchod found the state presented a “formidable case” against Laughton and the Rangers. The DNA tests and handwriting analysis, along with the evidence of the state’s 105A witnesses, all proved crucial. The court rejected Laughton’s testimony (and surprise alibi) as “false beyond reasonable doubt” and described him as a poor, evasive witness. The judge was not impressed with the defence’s DNA expert, who had made up his title, nor by Laughton’s friend Leon Rehrl. He noted that Conway Brown, Paul Toft-Nielson and Dirk Reinecke were hardly “angels”, but their evidence was corroborated.

Moments after the judgment was delivered, there were tears of joy and hugs outside the courtroom. Ketani’s eldest daughter Bulelwa and brother Mankinki had travelled from the Eastern Cape to witness the moment. They thanked prosecutors Herman Broodryk and Namika Kowlas, and detective Gerhard Van Wyk, for all their work. Bulelwa says they will now try and bring her mother’s spirit home.

Judgment Day

For more, see the following links from EWN:

Story 01

Story 02 

The Final Battle Approaches

March 8, 2014

The pause button has been pushed and the trial will continue in May. The reason for this is that three weeks turned out to be not nearly enough time to get through the evidence required. The state is still busy with its case and the break comes in the middle of the handwriting testimony. This is a crucial aspect of the case if prosecutors are going to link Carrington Laughton to the confession found under the carpet. He, of course, denies having anything to do with it.

In case you missed the last two days, we heard from a handwriting expert who confirmed that the signature on the confession and the few lines of writing at the bottom appear to be the work of Laughton. He is likely to bring his own expert or experts to dispute this. On its own, even if there’s a match, it’s not likely it would lead to a conviction. But prosecutors are hoping that this will be yet another piece of circumstantial evidence which will eventually tip the scales. Whoever wins this round, will secure a major victory. When the trial resumes on the 12th of May 2014, the defense will cross-examine the handwriting expert. Expect this to take some time.

We’ve also now had arguments in the battle over the chain of evidence. Simply put, the defense claims it’s broken and therefore the case against Laughton and the Ranger brothers, Carel and David, is dead in the water. The state argues that the chain is in tact. At the heart of the dispute is whether prosecutor Herman Broodryk can introduce new evidence during the re-examining of a witness given that advocate Laurence Hodes raised a new issue while cross-examining that same witness. It all has to do with the way a couple of evidence bags were handled. Judgment in this regard is expected on 3 April 2014. Again, this is a crucial part of the case.

What you can look forward to in May: Prosecutors will call the three “105” witnesses. These are the men who once sat in the dock with Laughton and the Rangers, but took deals and are now testifying for the state. Conway Brown will be the most important witness, followed by Paul Toft-Nielson and Dirk Reinecke. Expect fireworks. Hodes is going to try and tear them to pieces, attacking their credibility. If there is ever going to be a time when dirty secrets spill out, this will be it.

We’ll also have more forensic and chain evidence before the state closes its case. Hodes will almost certainly try and have the case thrown out after that, arguing that the state has failed to prove its allegations. If that fails, the defense will then begin to present its case with the biggest question being: will Carrington testify?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In two months time, all will be revealed.

To follow the trial live, get on Twitter: @alexeliseev

Developments Down South

August 23, 2013

Monique Neeteson-Lemkes – an Australian woman, named as a key figure in the Betty Ketani murder case – has been battling her bosses at the Fair Work Commission (a CCMA of sorts). She works as an air hostess for Jetstar and was fired last year, having discovered what she thought was a bomb on-board a local flight. She was dismissed because her employer felt she was no longer psychologically able to perform in high-risk situations. The commission has ruled in her favour and Jetstar has been ordered to rehire her.

You can read the full (and very interesting) story here.

The question now is will prosecutors in South Africa move to extradite her ahead of the trial, which is due to start in early November?

Creative design from the South

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