News Oct 21 2010

Summary: Delegates wept at  Interpol DNA-conference when confronted with SA pictures of child-rape scenes; write the government before Oct 23 2010 urging them to pass the DNA-law! Property developer Chris Kouremetis gunned down at wedding Muldersdrift; Jan Engelbrecht’s suspected murderer found not guilty of murder but of robbing the family;  Julian Bond 17 shot dead; brother Christopher, 21, critical, shot by armed gang in Pinetown;

 

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Interpol delegates burst into tears over pictures of child-rape crime scenes and untouched DNA-samples…

International delegates to a DNA-conference of Interpol in Lyon, France, wept when pictures of child-rape scenes were shown by Vanessa Lynch of Cape Town – founder of “The DNA-project’. The SAPS also submitted a report at the same conference, writes Beeld senior-editor Philip de Bruin.  “International delegates to the DNA-conference wept while the dire situation of DNA-profiles in South Africa was being explained to them,’ he writes. “Especially pictures of teddybears on top of baskets filled to the brim with DNA-sample envelopes and pictures of child-rape scenes greatly upset the delegates’.  Ms Lynch quit her career as an attorney after her father’s murder in 2004 – she was so upset about the poor way in which DNA-evidence was gathered in his case, that she decided to dedicate all her time to advancing the DNA-system in South Africa. 

Lynch Vanessa upset Interpol delegates with child-rape crime scene pictures Oct201010 INTERPOL Lynch: “What struck me most at the conference was the extent to which the majority of the countries government’s represented at the conference, were willing to put in whatever resources were required to establish and maximise the effectiveness of their respective DNA databases. It was also sobering to see how seriously they took crime and in some countries a stolen car was considered to be headline news and worthy of 24/7 resources to catch the perpetrator. You can just imagine the reaction that followed my presentation where I described the current situation in South Africa, spoke about my experience when my father was murdered and ended off the presentation with the VUKA ad which highlights the severity of crime in our country. To say that the audience was left in stunned silence at the end of my presentation, is perhaps an understatement.

“I think we all know how de-sensitized we are to crime in South Africa, but when people came up to me afterwards and told me they had literally choked-up during my presentation, I realised how far removed we really are and how dangerous this can be as it moves us into a place of acceptance of an absolutely, unequivocally unacceptable situation. And people kept asking me – but WHY doesn’t your government do something about this and WHY is it taking so long to pass this legislation which will convert all those unprocessed rape kits I had shown them, into a DNA profile which may lead the CSI’s to the perpetrator to STOP them from re-offending. And the best question: but WHY doesn’t your government or your parliamentarians RESPECT these victims and future victims of crime enough in your country to do something about this? Yes, WHY indeed?”  info@dnaproject.co.za http://dnaproject.co.za/blog/category/newsletter

She says while the SAPS’s DNA profiling capabilities are excellent – the country’s legislation is lagging far behind. All over the world, DNA profiling and DNA databases have become major tools in crime fighting – except in South Africa. “The problem is that current legislation is outdated and prevents the full use of DNA to solve crimes. New forensic legislation has already been sitting before a parliamentary committee for more than two years.” Vanessa: ‘But what they did was they split the Bill between fingerprints and DNA. Initially it dealt with both. The committee has just passed Phase 1 of the bill, which is fingerprint, and now it has been passed through the national assembly and various areas of parliament. They will then look at Phase 2. They have decided, however, that they want to first go on an overseas tour to both the UK and Canada to look at how other systems operate.’

Ms Lynch said her crusade to bring South Africa’s DNA-collection system on a par with that of most Western countries had everything to do with the sky-high crime statistics and the fact that criminals are being protected – the SAPS are not allowed to take DNA-samples of arrested crime-suspects nor maintain a data-base of such DNA-samples. In the USA, 6,8m DNA-samples have already been gathered for access by the police there, in Europe more than 7-million. In South Africa only 123,000 samples are available in their DNA-database. “The parliament has been sitting for the past two years on the Concept Law on Forensic Procedures  – and has thus far only promulgateed the first part – but had not yet set it in motion. Part one would provide the SAPS access to a fingerprint database being maintained by the Departments of Home Affairs and of Transport. The second part is progressing far slower: this would allow the SAPS to draw up DNA-profiles of every person arrested and found guilty of a crime.

The Democratic Alliance’s MP with the police-portfolio, Ms Dianne Kohler Barnard, said the second part of the law is important to the committee ‘but we also can’t just rush through such an invasive law’.  Parliamentary committee members first want to pay personal visits to Canada and Great Britain to probe the DNA-datasystems in those countries – and then public hearings still must be held. Meanwhile says Lynch, DNA-samples from serious crimes remain ‘untouched’. http://www.beeld.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/DNS-voorlegging-deur-SA-vrou-ontstel-afgevaardigdes-20101021  http://dnaproject.co.za/legislation-homepage/legislation/parliamentary-programme

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2010-10-12 Chris Kouremetis, best man at wedding, gunned down, Cradle Restaurant, Muldersdrift  – Armed men opened fire on best man Chris Kouremetis with an AK-47 and a 9mm pistol on Sunday —  just as the unarmed, wealthy property developer was about to leave the Cradle restaurant in Muldersdrift: he was the best man at a lavish wedding ceremony attended by 90 guests, many attending from other countries.

SAPS warrant officer Odette van Staden said Couremetis, a wealthy property-developer, was shot dead in front of 90 panick-stricken guests  – many attending from other countries.  “We believe this is part of the Rolex gang, who specifically look for their targets,” Van Staden said. Twelve shots were fired in total: two bullets hit Kouremetis in the chest and hand. The other bullets riddled his R1million luxurious Cayenne motorcar with holes – with two female passengers seated inside. Last week, a man was also shot and killed for his Rolex watch in Joburg. He had been returning from a shopping centre when his car was pushed off the road by the armed gang.

Van Staden said police believe the bullet penetrated the heart of Couremetis, a property developer based in Cape Town. “I think this must be the shot that killed him. The other bullet wound in the hand was not serious. When the paramedics arrived at the scene, he was certified dead,” she said. At around 10.30pm, two armed men emerged in the car park and opened fire on Couremetis. When he dropped to the ground, his attackers took his watch and moonbag containing R10,000 – which was wrapped around his waist.

Two women were already seated in the back of the unarmed Kouremetis’ car and he his male passenger were about to get into the car when the shooting started. The guests inside the restaurants scattered in panic, some hiding under tables. The two women were rushed to hospital, where they were sedated and treated for shock. A woman who was terrified of being named said her daughter was among the guests at the wedding ceremony and was still traumatised.  Like many other guests, the girl had travelled all the way from Australia to attend her best friend’s wedding. She had been friends with the bride since their high school days.

“Sounds like a hit: no other guests were hit or robbed…”

  • She was so distraught that she could not even relate the story properly. She was vomiting all over the place,” the mother said. “My daughter said people were running around trying to hide as the sound of gunfire continued. It sounds like it was a hit because no other guests were hurt or robbed. There is something fishy,” she added.  The dead man’s father, Costaz Couremetis’was too distraught too speak to The Star last night. – The Star http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/wedding-day-bloodshed-1.685487

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2010-10-20 Llewelyn Bond (17) killed ; brother Christopher critically shot by gang, Pinetown

PINETOWN, KwaZulu – The SAPS arrested one robber and a purchaser of a blue Toyota Yaris  stolen in Pinetown during an armed attack against the Bond family, during which unarmed matric-pupil Llewelyn Bond (17) was shot dead with one bullet in the head. His brother Christopher, 21, shot in the stomach is in critical condition at hospital. Pinetown SAPS spokesman Lt col Vincent Mdunge said they found the stolen car before the purchaser could sell it on to a second buyer for only R3,000. They are still searching for three other armed robbers and another buyer. Young Llewelyn was standing in front of his home in Pinetown, talking to his girlfriend, when four armed men with handguns stormed into the house where the rest of the family was sitting in the living room. The gunmen demanded the keys to the family car. Llewelyn’s older brother Christopher, 21, was shot in the stomach. The gang fled in the family’s bakkie and their Yaris. Llewelyn was a matric pupil at the Afrikaans Gelofte Skool and was shot dead only a day after the matric’s graduation party. “ It’s tragic the way the mood of a school can make an 180-degree turn within just 24 hours, said headmaster Danie Strydom in an interview with a Durban radio station. http://www.beeld.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Gewilde-matriekseun-in-huisrooftog-doodgeskiet-20101021

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2010-10-20 Murder suspect of Jan Engelbrecht acquitted by Pretoria High Court

PRETORIA NEWS – Merinda Engelbrecht outside the Pretoria High Court after attending the trial of Ernest Masipa of Phomolong, the man acquitted of murdering her husband Jan in an armed attack on the Afrikaner family on September 8 2008. Five months earlier, Merinda and her daughter Megan had also been attacked during a store-robbery. Photo: Masi LosiEngelbrecht Merina PtaHighCourt_husband Jan murdered suspect Ernest Masipa acquitted Oct212010

“Nobody will ever understand how traumatic it is to be attacked in your home and have your husband killed in front of you. I am battling to come to terms with this. When I close my eyes, the attack plays out in my mind like a movie.” This is how the widow of former Mac’s Motorbike Club vice-president Jan Engelbrecht feels more than two years after a gang broke into their Keerweer Street home in Booysens, Pretoria.  Merinda Engelbrecht’s husband was shot dead while running to the aid of his family, who were wrestling with the attackers outside.  Ernest Masipa of Phomolong, west of Atteridgeville, was the only member of the gang to be caught. Judge Mrs Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi of the Pretoria High Court yesterday acquitted him of Mr Engelbrecht’s murder – but did convict the man of robbery with aggravating circumstances.The judge  found that “Masipa had already fled the premises by the time Jan Engelbrecht was shot.”

Masipa admitted that he and the rest of the gang planned to rob the Engelbrecht couple – and that he knew that two of the gang members were armed. However, said the judge, ‘the State had not proved that Masipa associated himself with the act of killing Engelbrecht” and ‘had already left the premises by the time the first shot (outside the house) was fired” she said.

The gang broke into the house in the early hours of September 8, 2008. The family’s ordeal started when a gunman entered the bedroom of the Engelbrechts’ daughter Megan and demanded her cellphone. Another man also entered her room, but the two fled when they heard a commotion outside. Megan fled her father’s bedroom – finding a man standing over him pointing a gun. This man also ran outside when he heard a shot being fired in the bedroom. At the time, Mrs Merinda Engelbrecht and her sons Evan and Marcelle were outside, confronting the robbers.  Megan and her father ran out to help them, but her father was hit in the chest by a bullet as he stepped outside. Blows and shots were exchanged, but the attackers of the Afrikaner family got away. They took jewellery and other valuables, which were never recovered. Masipa told the court that he ‘was already down the road by the time the first shots were fired”. He also denied that he ever was inside the Engelbrecht house. He had stood outside a window while the others handed him the loot.

The Engelbrecht family had their share of being crime victims, Merinda Engelbrecht said after the trial yesterday. Her husband was robbed five months before being killed. She and Megan were also robbed  when they walked into a store. The robbers again stole her jewellery and took her handbag, in which she kept a note her late husband had written to her. “It is not going well with us. We are receiving counselling, but one cannot just wipe out what happened. Our whole lives have been turned upside down, and my soul mate was taken from me,” Merinda said. – Pretoria News http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/robber-acquitted-of-murder-1.687789

The time has come to make yourself HEARD about the DNA-Bill – before Oct 23 2010!

Why? Because the Portfolio Committee on Police (National Assembly) has invited interested individuals and organisations to submit written submissions on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill (also referred to as the “DNA Bill”)

The adoption of the  DNA Bill now requires public submissions, and lots of them, commenting on the Bill – and it is here that each one of you reading this entry, must take a stand and make the time to email your submissions to jmichaels@parliament.gov.za by no later than 23 October 2009 as to why you think  it is fundamental that this law is passed in SA.  Your email will not be one in a string of unread emails that circulates endlessly, crying out for a change. Your email WILL EFFECT that change, and the more people you tell to comment on the Bill, the more chance we have of ensuring that the Bill is passed by Parliament in its final form.   If ever there was a time to tangibly make a difference in SA, it is now.  Please – make yourself heard. Invitations for written submissions on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill [B2- 2009] have now been called for. PLEASE make yourself heard and email your submissions to the Portfolio Committee on Police before 23 October 2009. http://dnaproject.co.za/blog/category/newsletter

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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