Moodley appeal fails

Convicted murderer Donovan Moodley failed on Wednesday in his bid to have his conviction overturned for the kidnapping and murder of Leigh Matthews.

Convicted murderer Donovan Moodley’s version of the killing of Leigh Matthews was “far fetched”, Judge Joop Labuschagne said.

“The applicant’s version was far-fetched and fanciful,” the judge said, denying Moodley’s application in the High Court in Johannesburg for his conviction to be set aside.

“He also cannot explain why he burned the clothes he was wearing.”   

This implied he wanted to destroy the evidence, Labuschagne said.

“I am satisfied that the applicant’s version cannot be true. He is a self-confessed liar.

“How can anyone believe that an innocent, intelligent man can plead guilty?”   

He dismissed Moodley’s story about the drug dealers he claimed were involved in the kidnapping and murder. His story was “riddled with improbabilities”.

The judge also found Moodley had failed to explain the lateness of the application, nearly six years after the sentence had been passed.

Moodley failed to prove there were prospects of success for an appeal.

Moodley was found guilty in 2005 of the murder and kidnapping of  university student Leigh Matthews, 21, in July 2004, and of extorting money from her father. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping, and 10 years for extortion.

He has been in prison ever since.

Moodley began his application for a retrial last Wednesday, choosing to represent himself.

Moodley’s argument on his claim that  three Nigerian drug dealers, Frank, Allie and Jemba, orchestrated the kidnapping and murder.

Moodley claimed former investigating officer Piet Byleveld manipulated evidence and forced a confession in order to frame him.  He said this was because he was unable to lead police to the three drug dealers.

Labuschagne rebuked Moodley for attempting to discredit Byleveld  and prosecutor Zaais van Zyl in his application.

“Why do we only hear about (this alleged) police brutality six years after the event?”   

Labuschagne said Van Zyl was highly respected and did what was expected of him as an experienced prosecutor.

Moodley previously appealed against his conviction but withdrew this application. He also appealed against his sentence, but this was dismissed.