Sunday, 4 October 2009

Jogger stabbing accused denied bail

September 30 2009 at 04:17PM

By Jade Witten
Court Reporter

The man accused of stabbing to death Kenilworth jogger Ian Cowburn has been denied bail, with the Wynberg Magistrate's Court finding there were no exceptional circumstances to release him.

Magistrate Hafiza Mohamed said it was unfortunate that "senseless" armed robbery and murder cases like these were prevalent in South Africa. "Senseless in the sense that an innocent person was killed for no apparent reason," she said.

Xolisa Peter, 27, was arrested on May 19, a few hours after Cowburn, 68, was stabbed to death around 6.30am while jogging on Rosmead Avenue.

Arguing on Tuesday that Peter should be released on bail, his lawyer Andre Botman reiterated that police had arrested the "wrong person". He added that the main State witness, who saw the attack, could not positively identify Peter during a photograph identity session.

Mohamed said that according to the testimony of investigating officer, Detective Wilheim Dunsdon, Peter was found sleeping inside an abandoned house close to the murder scene. Cowburn's cellphone SIM card, the alleged murder weapon and bloodstained clothing were also seized when he was arrested.

Prosecutor Lindiswa Joni said DNA test results from the bloodied knife, and blood spatters on Peter's takkies and clothing, were still outstanding.

Mohamed took into account that the postmortem report revealed that Cowburn was stabbed to death, but that it was not yet clear whether the knife found in Peter's possession was the murder weapon.

Further evidence revealed that footprints at the crime scene led to the derelict house where Peter was apprehended.

The bloodied knife and clothing, the footprints and the SIM card proved that the State had more than a prima facie case, but circumstantial evidence, linking the accused to the crime, Mohamed said.

She said the fact that Peter was unmarried, had no children and was unemployed, that he had been "normal" and that nothing extraordinary existed to convince the court otherwise, meant bail would not be granted.

The prosecutor had argued that Peter was a flight risk, and that because he did not have a fixed address there had been no guarantee he would attend every court appearance.

Mohamed expressed concern that Peter was arrested in an abandoned house, saying the evidence from the accused's father was that Peter had not lived at their New Crossroads address for some time.

Based on Peter's "unstable" personal circumstances, and the seriousness of the crime, nothing exceptional existed to release him, she said.

Carol Cowburn, one of Cowburn's four children, was at the court on Tuesday. The case continues on November 12.

This article was originally published on page 6 of Cape Argus on September 30, 2009


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