Sobs as Desai verdict given

Sentencing proceedings will start on April 18 for Eston Afrikaner, 19, left, and Deswin Kleinbooi, 22, in the murder case of Port Elizabeth businessman Naeem Desai
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Two found guilty of gunning down Bay crime-fighting hero

Loud sobs rang out in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday when two men were found guilty of murdering Bay crime-fighting hero Naeem Desai.

In handing down judgment, Judge Dayalin Chetty said two alibi witnesses had both been less than truthful and had colluded – ultimately proving the guilt of Eston “Gans” Afrikaner, 19, and Deswin “Boetie Baas” Kleinbooi, 22.

Chetty said he found the testimony of state witness Ferdinand Valentine, 28, to have been coherent and logical despite the fact that he had diminished mental capacity.

Valentine testified that he had seen Afrikaner standing next to the driver’s door of the Jadeed Bakery delivery truck with a gun in his hand moments after he heard a gunshot go off while delivering bread to a Helenvale spaza shop.

Desai was murdered on May 12 2016.

Afrikaner and Kleinbooi were also found guilty of robbery with aggravated circumstances and Afrikaner was further convicted of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. Chetty said Valentine had placed both Afrikaner and Kleinbooi at the scene at the time of the crime.

“He gave an honest account of the events and his identification of [Afrikaner and Kleinbooi] is neither mistaken nor contrived,” he said. Chetty found the testimony of the state’s other witness, Ayanda Frolick, 26, unconvincing, but found there was no rational basis for Frolick to falsely implicate the accused.

Frolick claimed to have overheard the plot by Afrikaner and Kleinbooi to rob the delivery truck.

Chetty said although there was no doubt that Frolick had made a postshooting assumption of the conversation, that did not warrant the rejection of the entire body of his testimony.

However, he found that the two alibi witnesses brought by the defence had lied and colluded and that their testimony was patently false.

Kleinbooi’s girlfriend, Angelique Fillis, 18, told the court that she had celebrated Kleinbooi’s birthday with him at home last year, although he was in custody at the time.

“When it was pointed out to her that [Kleinbooi] was in fact in custody, she was rendered speechless,” Chetty said.

In his judgment, he said the testimony of Afrikaner’s alibi witness, Maria Jenneker, 59, had boomeranged.

He said her theatrics in the witness box had exposed her “complete disregard for the truth and her evidence is not only contrived but deliberately so”.

Jenneker claimed Afrikaner had slept over at her house on the night before the early-morning murder of Desai.

After Chetty concluded his judgment and convicted both Kleinbooi and Afrikaner, Desai’s family, who had been attending each day of the trial, became highly emotional and openly cried in the public gallery.

Desai’s mother, Amina Moodie, said after the judgment she was happy with the outcome.

“I am at peace, at last. I just wanted justice for my child,” she said.

Speaking with a quiver in her voice, Moodie said she had forgiven Kleinbooi and Afrikaner.

“If you can’t forgive, you will never be at peace. I have prayed about this case and we can now move on,” she said.

Desai’s wife, Armiena, sobbed bitterly inside the courtroom before rushing out and leaving.

The case was postponed to April 18, for a presentencing report to be compiled in respect of Afrikaner.

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