Donovan Moodley: 'I was framed'

Donovan Moodley asked for a retrial in the Johannesburg High Court on Friday, saying he did not kill student Leigh Matthews.

He was framed, he contended, adding that he would plead not guilty to all three of the charges against him—murder, kidnapping and extortion—if granted a new trial.

He also asked for protection for his family and his partner, Yashika Singh.

“They are dangerous and I believe my family, Yashika Singh and myself need to be protected.”

Moodley, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing Matthews in July last year and to successfully extorting a ransom for her return, had been expected to ask for leave to appeal his life sentence for the kidnapping and murder.

“I am now convinced that I am in a very strong position to overwhelmingly disprove the state’s case against me,” he told the court, appearing clad in an orange prison boiler suit, with the word “prisoner” stamped on it.

A crestfallen Rob Matthews, the father of Leigh, stood with his family.

“I don’t think we really understand it, to be honest,” he said.

Prosecutor Zaais van Zyl said: “I certainly did not expect that.”

Police spokesperson Superintendent Chris Wilken said police stand by their case.

“We have a solid case and we will stand by that.
We can go over a retrial tomorrow. We have not made any more arrests,” Wilken said.

Van Zyl explained that in terms of the law, the judge has to make a judgement on the application for a retrial and then the earlier plea of guilt has to be set aside.

Moodley wrote seriously on an exam pad before the proceedings started, guarded by at least five heavily armed correctional services officials. His family sat at the back of the court.

Investigating officer Piet Byleveld was also in court.

Matthews’s naked body was found by a grass cutter in a Walkerville veld, south of Johannesburg. She had been shot.

Forensic evidence showed that her body had been subjected to low temperatures and dumped shortly before being discovered—leading police to believe Moodley had help in committing the crime.—Sapa

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