DRAMATIC details of the brutal slaying of a young Port Elizabeth couple in Marine Drive early this year were spelt out in court yesterday. Owen Demingo, 31, and Sarah-Jane Oliphant, 22, were hijacked, kidnapped and forced to withdraw money from an ATM, and then executed and dumped on the side of the road – all for R5900, plus the cash from the sale of the sound system.
This emerged in the Port Elizabeth High Court in the indictment against the four accused.
The men’s exceptionally speedy trial has been hailed in the high court as testimony to the hard work and dedication of the team of detectives who closed the case within two days after the murders and prepared the docket for trial within five months. It is the third case to be heard in the high court this year where the victims have been hijacked in parking areas at community centres and kidnapped.
Andrico Williams, 21, ofCleary Estate, Shannon Mopp, 25, of Bethelsdorp, Junaid van Vught, 27, also from Cleary Estate, and Justin Maurice Najoe, 22, of Bloemendal, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
According to the indictment, Demingo, of Palmridge, and Oliphant, of Bethelsdorp, were sitting in Demingo’s car at the Bloemendal Community Centre in the early hours of January 29.
The state alleges the four men obtained a 7.65 semi-automatic pistol from Altaaf Swartz the previous day.
On the day of the murder, they allegedly approached the couple, opened the car’s doors, forced Demingo and Oliphant into the boot and drove to Marine Drive. They allegedly stopped on the way and forced Demingo to withdraw R900 from his bank account.
The men are accused of stealing Demingo’s car, a Volkswagen Polo, two cellphones, three gold rings, a pair of Nike takkies, two watches, a jacket, a pair of sunglasses, a pair of reading glasses and R900.The couple were both shot in the head – Demingo first and, a short while later, Oliphant.
Their bodies were dumped alongside the road.
They were found 8.7km apart by passing cyclists shortly after 5.30am. Demingo’s body was found first behind the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Oliphant’s near Three Pools, covered with a blue blanket.
The trial will begin in January next year. The men’s legal team indicated they did not wish to explain the reasons for their not guilty pleas. They will remain in custody.
Meanwhile, two men who admitted hiding Demingo’s vehicle in a garage and selling the wheels and mags, pleaded guilty in the high court yesterday to theft of a motor vehicle.
Marquin Jurgens and Benito Draghoender will be sentenced in August.
In a plea explanation, Jurgens said he had received a call from Van Vught on January 29.
“He asked to meet me. I saw Williams and Mopp sitting in a red Volkswagen Polo. Van Vught told me the vehicle had been stolen. Williams said he already had a buyer for the sound system. They wanted R5000 for the car.
“I took the vehicle to Draghoender’s house. I told him we must sell it and share the profit. We sold the mag wheels and tyres for R1200.
“I had no idea where the vehicle came from. I also told the police what I had overheard about the firearm used in the incident. It led to the recovery of the firearm.”
Jurgens has a previous conviction for theft for which he was sentenced to correctional supervision in 2001. Draghoender is a first offender. Both men are out on bail.
Earlier this year, Adrian Saulse and Chainey Nelson were sentenced to life imprisonment for hijacking a couple outside the Booysens Park Community Centre in 2009. After assaulting the man, the woman was gang-raped for hours.
Saulse, Nelson and Marcus George have also been convicted of hijacking a couple parked at the same centre a few months later. They killed Bevan Williams and gang-raped his date for hours.