Slain man's gun to be central in Siam Lee murder case

Siam Lee.
Siam Lee.

A gun belonging to a slain Durban man - found when police raided the home of the man accused of the kidnapping and murder of escort Siam Lee – is expected to become a central piece of evidence in the state’s case.

On Thursday Regional Court magistrate Mohamed Motala heard testimony of investigating officer Rajan Govender who‚ for the first time‚ showed the state’s hand.

The 29-year-old businessman‚ who cannot be named until he tenders a plea in respect of a rape charge he faces‚ has been in custody for nearly four months.

He was arrested ten days after Lee went missing from the brothel where she worked with her mother in Durban North.

After the charred body was found in a field near New Hanover‚ police and private investigators swooped on the man at his home in Assagay‚ west of the city.

“[The man] was arrested at his residence in Assagay and was found in possession of a semi-automatic firearm and ammunition without a license to possess same. It has been established that the firearm belonged to Msizi Cele who was shot and killed at his residence in Malvern‚” Govender said.

The publication had earlier reported that a vehicle tracking report for the man’s car had placed him at the brothel where Lee went missing‚ and at the farm where her body was dumped.

“The tracking report confirms movement of this vehicle from the time of the disappearance of Lee at Margaret Maytom to the man’s home. The tracking report further confirms movement of this vehicle from Assagay to the scene where the deceased was discovered in New Hanover.

“The man was identified as her last client shortly prior to her disappearance. He was also identified by a witness as the driver of a black Mercedes which was later seized from his home in Assagay‚” Govender added.

The veteran policeman outlined how the case against their prime suspect had been built‚ with additional charges drawn from the abduction and rape of another sex worker in 2016.

Prosecutor Surekha Marimuthoo had put to the man that he’d booked an appointment with an escort using the website redvelvet.co.za‚ the same site on which Siam Lee had advertised herself as a “student in training”.

“The state will allege that you came to her place of work after contacting her through the Red Velvet website. It is alleged that you threatened her with a gun and forced her into your car‚” she said.

“You forced her to strip naked in the vehicle and then you drove her to your place in Shongweni. At the premises you proceeded to rape her‚” she added.

Marimuthoo accused the man of stealing two cell phones belonging to the escort. She also accused him of using a racist slur and vulgar language towards her.

The alleged killer nodded in response to each point‚ and reiterated his refusal to answer.

Govender’s testimony is expected to continue on Friday.

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