News / South Africa / Courts

Liezl van Niekerk
5 minute read
8 Mar 2019
10:11 am

Oudtshoorn military murder case tentatively identifies alleged ‘mastermind’

Liezl van Niekerk

Courts hear conflicting statements which lean towards the late staff sergeant’s wife not being behind his alleged planned murder.

The late Preston Titus. Image: Facebook/Remembering Preston Titus

The murder case of Preston Titus in the Oudtshoorn Magistrate Court concluded for the week on Thursday morning. State advocate Christénus van der Vijver indicated that they would summon witnesses to testify on cellphone records on Monday, reports Oudtshoorn Courant.

SANDF staff sergeant Preston Titus was stabbed to death at his home on a military base in 2017. His lifeless body was found by his wife, Magdaleen, and daughter. It was initially thought that Preston died during a robbery, reports EWN.

The four accused are Magdaleen Titus, Natasha Stuurman, Justice Mooi, and Masithembe January (MJ).

From left: Magdaleen Titus, Justice Mooi, Adv. Mostaque Holland, Louise Luterer (MJ’s lawyer), and Natasha Stuurman.

ALSO READ: ANC councillor to appear in Oudtshoorn court for murder

Sixabiso Klip’s testimony

Sixabiso Klip making his way to the witness stand.

Sixabiso Klip, the witness who went into a plea bargain with the state the day Preston’s wife Magdaleen was arrested, began testifying on Monday. Sixabiso’s plea means a 15-year jail sentence. It is alleged that Magdaleen, an ANC councillor in Oudtshoorn, planned the murder of her husband.

Sixabiso began his testimony by explaining the work relationship with Titus, saying that he never had a romantic relationship with Magdaleen. According to him, he did, however, have a relation with Masithembe. The state asked him if Titus had any other relationships with women other than his wife and Masithembe, which Sixabiso responded to by saying that there were many other relationships.

According to Sixabiso, Titus’s murder was meant to take place on November 30 2017. However, this plan was interrupted because Titus had friends staying over at his house that evening.

Sixabiso said that this was why Magdaleen allegedly insisted the murder had to take place on the afternoon of December 1 2017. Magdalene took the children out for the afternoon. Sixabiso said that Justice Mooi purchased pepper spray and sleeping pills, after which he, Mooi, and an unknown man, known to investigators as Vusumsi and travelled from Port Elizabeth to Oudtshoorn with Mooi, made their way to Titus’s house.

Justice Mooi and Magdaleen Titus in the dock.

Sixabiso said they did not go ahead with the planned murder.

He further alleged that a wrench was used in the murder, and that it was Mooi who asked him to bring it with him. He also said that the R30,000 was to be paid to them, and that he drove the car used to transport the alleged hitmen to Titus’s house, and was to wait until the murder was carried out.

Sixabiso said that the murder took place on the evening of December 1, and the he took Mooi and Vusumsi to George via Mossel Bay after the murder.

According to him, MJ and Natasha Stuurman, a friend of Titus whose home was used to house the alleged hitmen, were not in Oudtshoorn at the time the murder took place.

Investigating the premises

The Oudtshoorn Magistrate Court investigated Stuurman’s place of residence in Bongolethu, under strict police guard.

Curious residents crowd outside Natasha Stuurma’s house during Monday’s site visit. Photo: Hannes Visser

Chris Morgan, Joey Nel, and Natasha Stuurman, during the on-site investigation in Third Avenue. Photos: Liezl van Niekerk

Stuurman’s lawyer Chris Morgan led the investigation and talked other legal representatives and the judge through the investigation of the house. All four accused and legal representatives were involved in the site visit. Sixabiso was transported to the house by prison staff. His grandmother, who lives across the street from Stuurman, was also present.

Cross-examination

Mooi’s lawyer, advocate Stoffel Prinsloo, began the cross-examination and said that his client’s version of events differed from Sixabiso’s.

According to him, Mooi boarded a taxi from Port Elizabeth to Oudtshoorn on his own and was in Oudtshoorn for a church service. When he arrived in Oudtshoorn, he found out that the service was being held in Beaufort West and asked Sixabiso to take him back to Port Elizabeth.

Prinsloo indicated that his client and the unknown man, who is confirmed to be one of the hitmen, had nothing to do with each other, and that Mooi did not know or interact with him.

Prinsloo said that Mooi slept over in George on the night Titus was murdered, as Sixabiso couldn’t take him back to Port Elizabeth, and that Sixabiso paid for the accommodation.

Magdaleen’s lawyer, advocate Mostaque Holland, said that according to his client, Magdaleen and Sixabiso met in 2015 when he took her to a funeral. Magdaleen acknowledged this, but said they were not friends at this stage.

Holland also suggested to Sixabiso that he was jealous, and that one night, after drinking too much, he got into a fistfight with another man for allegedly sleeping with Magdaleen.

Magdaleen alleges that Sixabiso regularly got drunk, but he denied this vehemently, saying that he has never hit someone because of Madgaleen. However, he did admit that he sometimes drank a lot, but only if he knew he didn’t have to drive.

Holland further suggested that Magdaleen helped Sixabiso financially to assist his friend and her child. According to Holland, Sixabiso also had a relationship with a man, and that the man and Sixabiso’s friend got so jealous of the friendship between Magdaleen and Sixabiso that she was not allowed to visit him at his house.

Holland said that Magdaleen never spoke with Mooi about the planned murder and that they only discussed politics because she found out that Mooi was related to the late struggle icon Chris Hani.

Holland suggested to Sixabiso that there are different versions of what he said happened in court and what he declared in his statement. Holland said that Sixabiso was trying to implicate witnesses in the court at whatever cost because his version of events was untrue, differing from what was being discussed in court, as well as what was declared in his statement.

Holland further alleged that Sixabiso was the mastermind behind the murder of Preston Titus, and not Magdaleen.

The cross-examinations continue.

This article was translated from Afrikaans by Nica Schreuder. 

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.