The two men accused of murdering Cape Town theology student Jesse Hess and her grandfather Chris Lategan are demanding proof that they are linked to the murders otherwise they will institute civil action, the Bellville Magistrate’s Court heard on Wednesday.
This was after the court heard the case would have to be postponed to April 8 due to delays in the results of DNA testing. The two will remain in custody as they did not apply for bail.
With the tattoo “Chosen 1” on the back of his neck, the late Jesse’s relative David van Boven complained through his Legal Aid lawyer that he had been in custody since November and no evidence had been presented to link him to the case.
He was unhappy about the delay in the analysis of the DNA samples taken from the gruesome scene at the flat in Parow where Hess and Lategan were found dead on August 30, 2019.
He demanded that the remand be marked as “final” and said after that he would institute civil proceedings for his arrest.
His co-accused Tasliem Ambrose represented himself but opted for a Legal Aid lawyer on Wednesday and indicated he felt the same as Van Boven.
Magistrate Charles Scott said that in “court time” theirs had only been a short period in custody given the nature of the allegations against them. He therefore did not mark it as final.
He said questions about links to a crime are often raised during bail applications, which neither had opted to submit so far.
He said there must have been a link for them to have been arrested in the first place.
The court heard that Ambrose had previous and pending drug-related cases and a conviction for gun possession. Van Boven had previous convictions for aggravated robbery and rape.
“He [Van Boven] can, at any time, apply for bail,” Scott said. “At this stage he has abandoned his bail,” he noted.
He advised Van Boven to indicate that he wanted to apply for bail and to “wait in the queue” for the application to be heard if he chose to do so.
The busy court roll has been delayed due to load shedding.
Hess was a former pupil of Table View High School and was studying theology at the University of the Western Cape. She lived with her grandfather in Parow and their bodies were discovered one horrific morning after nobody got hold of them.
A window had to be broken to get into the flat when their bodies were seen through a window.
The stolen items included Jesse’s backpack.
After representing himself, Ambrose changed to a Legal Aid lawyer, on Scott’s advice. Scott told him he also had the right to institute any other legal action he felt necessary.
In the public gallery, relatives and friends of the victims and activists who had picketed outside court, were quiet, but slight murmurs of irritation slipped out as the two were led back to the holding cells.
Once outside court, family, friends and activists were furious that DNA results were slowing the case down.
“We want closure. We need closure,” said Felicia Geldenhuys, wearing one of the T-shirts with a collage of pictures of Jesse on it.
She said she was among the first at the flat after the bodies were found.
“How do you live with it? The scene – you just don’t get it out of your head.
“Every time we think ‘just breathe’, and then it’s the next court date.”
She said the delays were affecting not only their mental well-being, but also that of the many other families and friends of people who have been murdered.
Jesse’s stepmother, Audrey, was also angry about the delay and broke down and cried outside court as she walked out with her husband Lance, who was on crutches.
Pastor Deon Thole was equally upset and vowed to write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to ask him why DNA backlogs were causing such painful delays.
Earlier, Sue Marais and Manda Matthaei from global anti-gender-based violence movement One Billion Rising staged a loud two-woman picket demanding to know: “Where are you, Mr President?”. They also called on men and perpetrators of violence to “untrash yourself”.