/ 24 April 2006

Insufficient evidence sinks laundry murder case

The case against six people accused of murdering three laundry workers was struck off the roll at the Vereeniging Magistrate’s Court on Monday due to insufficient evidence against the accused.

”I am not prepared to grant the state’s request for further postponements,” ruled magistrate W Ewart. ”It is quite clear there is very little or no evidence against the accused.”

He said it is necessary for police to go back to the drawing board and investigate the case properly and efficiently. ”The big problem is that the case has been dealt with in a very, very amateurish way,” he said.

South African Congress of Trade Unions president Willie Madisha, who was in court on Monday, said the outcome shows the inefficiency of the state. ”Whether black or white, this is the state and it has not done its work.”

At the accused’s last appearance, Ewart warned the state to come up with the full facts of the case or withdraw the charges.

Charl Colyn and his daughter Isabel, Jacques Smit, Ruan Swanepoel, Jacob Dlamini and Samuel Mzizi were charged with the murders of Jocelyn Lesito, Victoria Ndweni and Constance Moeletsi.

The women were beaten, thrown into washing machines filled with chemicals, tied up and strangled. Their bodies were found dumped in laundry bins in January this year.

Last month, the prosecutor had asked the court permission for the bodies of the victims to be exhumed for further examination. It was by Monday not clear whether finality had been reached on this matter.

The defence contended last month that the state’s evidence was insufficient and that an exhumation would take too long. — Sapa