A heavy police presence with all roads surrounding the Port Elizabeth High Court blockaded set the tone as a triple-murder trial kicked off yesterday. The murders – a series of three separate killings in just one day – started outside the North End law courts, took the killers to Newton Park and ended with a murder in Gelvandale.
Yesterday, access to the court building was hampered by at least three security checkpoints while sniffer dogs were seen entering and exiting the Central landmark before the trial involving alleged gang kingpin Wendell Petersen and his co-accused began.
Petersen, 30, along with Jermaine “Dolf” Mitchell, 30, Glynn “Boudt/Holland” Carelson, 30, Robin “Milo” Taylor, 21, and Graham “Gram” Kammies, 35, have all been charged with three counts of murder, three counts of conspiracy to commit murder, four counts of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The men are all alleged members of the Dustlifes gang.
It is alleged that on September 14 2015 the men – working in cahoots with each other – shot dead three people in and around Port Elizabeth.
Their first target, Theodore “Tupac” Matthews was shot on his way to the New Law Courts in North End as he got out of a taxi on the corner of Durban and Cottrell roads.
Later that same day, the gang allegedly shot Rajen Naidoo outside a Burt Drive, Newton Park home.
Their third and final target, was Jermain “Jabilo” Essau, who was shot in Springbok Street, Gelvandale, that evening.
Court papers reveal an intricate web of communications between the accused, with some of them allegedly monitoring their victims’ movements while others carried out the hits.
Representing Petersen, advocate Deon Erasmus told Judge Mandela Makaula that he had been informed by state advocate Munjaahib Sandan that the state was in possession of phone records of intercepted conversations between the accused and others which it intended to include as evidence.
“My instructions are that we request insight into the documents granting authority to allow for the recordings,” Erasmus said.
Sandan told Makaula that after consultation with legal council for the SAPS, the state would oppose the application.
Advocate James Riley, representing Carelson, said his client denied any association with the co-accused and had an alibi.
Robin O’Brien, for Kammies, said his client was incarcerated in Kimberley when the murders were committed.
Erasmus, Richard Crompton for Mitchell and Xolile Bodlo for Taylor said their clients would not yet submit a plea.
Erasmus told Makaula that Petersen was unhappy about being kept at the Kirkwood prison and asked Makaula to order his transfer to St Albans.
“It is not for the court to instruct the police or correctional services what to do. I do not have the authority. You can bring a separate application to court after consultation with your client,” Makaula said.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said it was a precautionary measure for the police and other security officials to be at court.
“These are high-profile gang members that are on trial. It is just precautionary as the case is set for trial this week.”
The trial continues.