Dead cat for R46m heist cop

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

The R46million bank robbery trial had to be put on hold after the houses of the investigating officer and one of the defence lawyers were broken into yesterday morning.

Investigating officer Inspector Gert Gary Pretorius said he woke up yesterday morning to find the gate of his house broken. A dead black cat, with its throat slit and limbs broken, was lying on his doorstep.

It is not clear who left the dead cat and why, but nothing was stolen from the officer's house.

Defence counsel Advocate Mohale Lebea's house was also broken into yesterday morning.

Since the trial resumed at the Johannesburg high court three months ago, it has been mired in controversy.

On April 13, the day before the trial was due to start, 12 men dressed in police uniforms broke into state prosecutor Deon van Wyk's office and stole documents relating to the case. They then allegedly headed for Pretorius' house.

"On the same day of the court robbery, I arrived at home and found six men wearing balaclavas in my yard.

"Upon my approach, they fled in three cars which matched the description of those allegedly used by the high court robbers. It must be noted that my particulars, including my home address, were in the documents stolen from court," Pretorius said in an affidavit.

The court robbery led to the state filing an application for the trial to be held in a closed court after its witnesses said they feared for their lives. The application was dismissed.

In 2006, the nine men standing trial allegedly walked into First National Bank and stole about R46million. They were dressed in security guard uniforms when they staged the robbery. But they were arrested before they could leave the building. The trial resumes on Monday.