Expert witness in Dippenaar case says he was threatened

26 November 2018 | Justice

A stunning twist in the sensational Dippenaar murder trial has occurred. One of the two expert witnesses for the State, who has already given testimony during the trial, has opened a case of assault by threat against a key witness for the defence. In the meantime, the murder trial was postponed until July 2019.

The case of assault by threat was opened on Thursday at the Swakopmund police station and entails allegations of a death threat. “We are investigating this matter and will forward the docket to court once we have finalised it,” said Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu, Erongo's regional crime investigations coordinator, upon enquiry.

According to Iikuyu, the key witness for the defence allegedly threatened the State witness during an earlier court proceeding in front of the Swakopmund courthouse. The witness allegedly threatened to “break his neck”, Iikuyu said.

Meanwhile, the murder trial against Jandré Dippenaar will only continue in July 2019. This new date was decided on by all the parties after the nearly three-day cross examination of mechanical expert Martin Graham concluded on Thursday afternoon in the Swakopmund Regional Court. “There is not enough time to hear another witness. We therefore have to postpone the matter to another date,” said State advocate Ethel Ndlovu.

The trial was set down for various periods next year - from 8 until 12 July, then again from 12 until 16 August and lastly from 16 until 20 September.

The family of the accident victims as well as Eberhard Seybold, counsel Antonia Joschko who survived the horror accident of 29 December 2014, were clearly frustrated after this announcement was made. “It does not seem like we've made any progress in this case this week. Close to four years have passed already,” said Petrus Pretorius after the matter concluded on Thursday.

Pretorius is the father of Dinah Pretorius, who died during the in the horror accident between Henties Bay and Swakopmund. Dippenaar is accused to have driven her brand-new Toyota FJ Cruiser and having caused a head-on collision with a Ford Ranger. He is charged with the murder of Dinah Pretorius, JC Horn and Charlene Schombee as well as three German tourists.

Since the trial continued last week, the parents of Pretorius as well as JC Horn's mother have been present at court. JC Horn's mother left the courtroom for the first time on Wednesday during the cross-examination. “I'm not going to listen to this anymore. Asking the same questions over and over makes me tired,” she said.

“Man, this is frustrating,” Joschko's lawyer Seybold added. “We've spent so much time on a cross-examination, asking lots of questions which are not crucial. This gives the impression that the defence is wasting time,” he said.

Since the start of the trial, Dippenaar himself has so far only uttered a few words in court. “Innocent,” he said nine times and thereby claimed his innocence on all charges. At the end of the gruelling cross examination his lawyer, Advocate Louis Botes, lamented these words and said that Antonia Joschko's father can be held liable for the accident.

“We'll prove in court that the Ford Ranger went into the lane of the FJ Cruiser when the collision took place,” Botes said. The mechanical expert Martin Graham simply answered: “I am no reconstruction expert. I have no comment.” During the lengthy cross-examination Graham never deviated from his version.

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