Two guilty of contract murder of Chanelle Henning
Former Nigerian olympic athlete Ambrose Monye and businessman Andre Gouws were found guilty by the High Court in Pretoria on Monday of the contract murder of Chanelle Henning.
Henning had just dropped her son off at his creche in Faerie Glen, Pretoria, when she was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle on November 8, 2011.
She was at the time involved in a custody battle with her former husband, Nico, who was a close friend of Gouws.
Former policeman Gerhardus du Plessis and his friend Willem Pieterse are serving 18-year prison sentences after confessing to the murder.
Judge Johan Kruger accepted their evidence that Monye and Gouws had arranged the murder.
He said Monye and Gouws's claim that Du Plessis and Pieterse had acted on their own was not reasonably possibly true.
Kruger said their versions that the two killers had been employed either as bouncers or to do surveillance on Henning in an attempt to catch her with drugs were "concocted afterthoughts" designed to hide their own complicity in the murder.
He said Henning's murder was a "classic contract killing" with Du Plessis and Pieterse as instruments who carried out the hit on the instructions of Monye and Gouws.
He found that Gouws wanted Henning killed and had asked Monye to obtain the services of two men willing to do the job.
Gouws had agreed to pay Monye, who in turn obtained the services of Pieterse and later Du Plessis.
Gouws was the instigator of the murder and Monye supplied the people to do the job.
Monye had informed Du Plessis and Pieterse of the job and Gouws had provided the information about the victim that was necessary to complete it.
Monye's conduct up to the murder was that of a person who was not only aware of the plan, but of someone who had actively participated in the plot to kill.
Kruger said without Gouws's involvement, Monye would have had no reason, motive or even the necessary information to arrange the murder.
All the participants were aware of the purpose of Du Plessis and Pieterse's introduction to Gouws, who showed the two killers where the murder had to be committed.
After a failed attempt on November 3, because the killers lacked the necessary information, Monye had arranged a meeting between them and Gouws so that Gouws could give them more information.
Monye had urged the two killers to "go and do the job", which confirmed that he had fully associated himself with their objective.
At this meeting Gouws spoke to Nico Henning and found out that Chanelle's child would be with her for the weekend, which was why the murder was arranged for the Monday as Gouws did not want her killed in front of her child.
Pieterse left to do the job alone on the morning of November 7 after Du Plessis withdrew, but Du Plessis changed his mind after Monye threatened to kill his family and even his dog.
Immediately after the murder on November 8, Pieterse had informed Monye, who in turn informed Gouws.
Kruger found that Monye referred to Du Plessis after the murder as "killer boy" and roped in the services of one of his security guards to pay part of the payment he received from Gouws into his bank account.
He said despite Monye and Gouws's knowledge of the murder, both failed to inform the police due to their own complicity in planning and executing the murder.
"If ever there had been a case where direct intent existed, this is such a case," said Kruger.
He said it would be wrong to find the two guilty of conspiracy to murder as well, as the charges of conspiracy and murder merged.
He also found Gouws and Monye not guilty of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition as the State could not prove that either had ever been in possession of the murder weapon.
Kruger made it clear that he did not want to comment on Nico Henning's possible involvement in the murder.
"Nico Henning was not an accused, nor did he testify... He had no opportunity to respond to or to explain any of the allegations against him.
"Fairness dictates that I shall not try a man in his absence," he said.
Chanelle's mother Sharon Saincic said the matter was not over as "the man behind the whole thing" was not in front of court.
"Andre Gouws did not act on his own. We know that," she said.
Saincic said she was satisfied that two huge criminals had been removed from the street and that a lot of other people's lives would at least be spared, even if it would not bring back her daughter.
Sentencing proceedings will start on Wednesday.