Bartlett accused include former dog unit officer

Denise Bartlett
Picture: Supplied to DispatchLIVE

One of grandmother Denise Bartlett’s two accused kidnappers is a 45-year-old former dog unit police officer.

Komani police spokeswoman Captain Namhla Mdleleni yesterday confirmed that one of the suspects lives behind the Bartletts’ Sterkstroom home.

Mdleleni would not say which of the two it was.

However, Bartlett’s daughter, DA councillor Lindy Haggard, who lives with Bartlett in the Sterkstroom house, and Sterkstroom community leader Ntsikelelo Qibi, said they knew Andre Cornelius because he lived in the house behind the Bartletts.

“We share the same back wall, and sometimes we would go and chill there.

“They can really play loud music, but last week the music was at an acceptable level.

“We did not think for a moment that she was close by.”

News of the former cop’s connection to the five-day abduction and kidnapping emerged yesterday when two men appeared in the Sterkstroom Magistrate’s Court.

They are accused of abducting the Sterkstroom grandmother, 71, for five days and attempting to extract a R3-million ransom.

Cornelius, 45, a retired warrant officer in the K9 unit, and co-accused Raymond Fillis, 37, faced charges of kidnapping and house robbery.

They were making their first appearance after being arrested on Friday.

Yesterday, Captain Mdleleni said: “One of the suspects stays behind the victim’s house.”

She confirmed that Bartlett was found in the home of one of the suspects.

“The case was postponed to Monday for a formal bail application,” she said.

Bartlett was abducted by two armed men from her family home in Sterkstroom on Tuesday night.

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