We're ready for trial, says Leigh Matthews's father

Leigh Matthews’s father, Rob, said on Tuesday his family is ready to testify at the trial of Donovan Moodley, who allegedly kidnapped and murdered the 21-year-old university student.

Speaking to the South African Press Association, Rob said his wife, Sharon, and daughter, Karen, are “emotionally ready”.

“We understand there is a procedure and a process that will unfold over the next number of weeks. As a family, we believe we are emotionally prepared for that process. We’re up to it.”

According to the indictment, all the members of the Matthews family will give evidence at the trial, which starts on Monday.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Moodley is planning to address the media on Monday.

What he will say is a mystery.
He has instructed his lawyer, Jonathan Minnie, to keep mum. If Moodley cannot address the media directly, Minnie will speak for him.

Moodley has also told his defence team not to reveal his intended plea.

Whatever Moodley says to the media could be used against him, legal experts warned.

Meanwhile, police have maintained that Moodley will be the only accused in the case in the Johannesburg High Court.

“I spoke to Superintendent Piet Byleveld an hour ago and he told me he has only one suspect,” said spokesperson Superintendent Chris Wilken.

Wilken said the trial is set down for six to eight weeks. At least five police officers will help secure the courtroom, as the trial promises to attract much interest.

“This is the biggest publicity ever about a single murder,” Wilken said.

Minnie and the prosecution have confirmed that no witnesses will be called for Moodley’s defence and that he will not go into the witness box.

The preacher’s son has been waiting for 10 months behind bars to face charges of kidnapping, extortion, robbery and murder.

Matthews was snatched from the Sandton campus of Bond University on July 9 last year.

On the same night, during the ransom drop-off, Rob Matthews came within metres of his daughter’s killer when he dropped an envelope with R50 000 out of his car window.

Initially, the kidnapper demanded R300 000, but agreed to pick up an instalment on the dark N1 highway near the Grasmere tollgate south of the city.

Instead of returning Leigh, the kidnapper drove her to a dark field in Walkerville Manor, ordered her to strip naked and shot her in the back of the head.

It was not until July 21 that a grass cutter discovered her body lying metres from a Walkerville road. A massive police manhunt was then launched.

Pressure mounted, with top politicians, including President Thabo Mbeki and former president Nelson Mandela, calling for an arrest.

Websites were built and visited by hundreds of people, some as far away as Australia. A 24-hour call centre was opened for tip-offs and a R250 000 reward offered. International kidnapping experts were called in.

The hunt was described as the biggest police manhunt in the country’s history.

A fund was opened to raise money for the police’s serious and violent crimes unit.

While the hunt was still on, Moodley became engaged on a luxury yacht off the coast of Durban. On August 8, he proposed to his high-school sweetheart, Yeshika Singh, during a romantic cruise.

“It was a dream come true,” she later described it. The wedding was planned for June this year.

Investigating officer Superintendent Piet Byleveld finally made an arrest on October 4 last year.

After Moodley’s arrest, his fiancée made headlines when the asset forfeiture unit seized her engagement ring, along with Moodley’s assets.—Sapa

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