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Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Some parts are graphic in nature and listener discretion is advised. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.
It was eight June 2004. Leigh Matthews spent the evening at a Chinese Restaurant in Cyrildene, Johannesburg to celebrate her 21st birthday. It was a jolly evening with her sister, her mom, her dad and some friends. When they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ the entire restaurant joined in, and Leigh blushed with embarrassment.
But this wasn’t her party, just a small get-together to celebrate the day. She had planned celebrations for the weekend. Her Twenty-first was going to be a Pirates of The Caribbean themed-party at Wits Club [Vits Club], a venue near the city centre.
Leigh had her blonde highlights done and had a manicure on her actual birthday, the Thursday before the party. She had been planning the event for months and was very excited about it.
But sadly Leigh would never have her party. On the morning of July 9th, she attended classes at Bond University. She was done early, and left at 10 am, waving hello to a fellow student in the parking lot. Then, she was taken, in broad daylight, never to be seen alive again…
Leigh Matthews was born on the 8th of July 1983 in Johannesburg to parents Rob and Sharon. She had an older sister, Karen, and the family lived in Fourways, a well-off neighbourhood in Johannesburg’s north.
Leigh was a soft-spoken and kind young woman, who liked doing things correctly. She was a sensitive person who did not want to be the centre of attention. Although Leigh had many good friends, she valued her privacy. She enjoyed rowing and was part of the Wits University rowing team, even though she attended another college.
In 2004, Leigh was studying B.Comm. Finance at Bond University’s Morningside campus, intending to become a Chartered Accountant. She was a diligent student, and she had a bright future ahead of her.
On the 8th of July, she turned 21. A significant milestone to celebrate with family and friends. To mark the special occasion, her parents gave her a Tanzanite ring. Her mother Sharon had one, and Leigh loved the rare violet-coloured stone. She was so happy with her present, she promised her parents that she would cherish it forever.
When she left to go to class the next morning, she put the ring in her pocket, as she didn’t want it to get damaged or stolen. Her mother just smiled, Leigh always dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, she was very safety conscious, and her mom wasn’t surprised that Leigh took extra care to look after her gift.
When Leigh arrived at Bond University on the morning of the ninth, she realised she had her mom’s credit card in her purse. She sent Sharon a text message to inform her. They arranged that her mom would come to campus to fetch the card. Bond University had access control with a security boom at the entrance, so the plan was for Leigh to meet Sharon at the gate after her class, at 10 am. A fellow student saw Leigh walking to her car, in her usual parking spot and a moment later, another student spotted her, talking to a man. This was the last time anyone ever saw Leigh Matthews alive.
Sharon arrived just after 10 am, but there was no sign of Leigh. She waited for 20 minutes, and when Leigh didn’t show up, she called her. But her phone was off – this was very unusual. Sharon called her husband Rob and told him what was going on, and he tried to calm her down, assuming it was only a misunderstanding.
At 11am, two of Leigh’s friends were waiting for her at a shopping mall nearby. They had plans to buy a present for someone, and then have lunch together. But Leigh never showed up.
As the morning passed and Leigh had not been in touch, both her parents grew concerned. Sharon tried to call Leigh several times, but her phone was off. When she finally saw an incoming call from her daughter, she was beyond relieved. A male’s voice on the other end said that he had taken Leigh. At first, Sharon thought it was a joke, something to do with the pirate-themed party the following evening. Leigh had planned the whole event down to the last detail, and it wouldn’t have surprised Sharon if she kicked off celebrations with a stunt the day before the actual party. But she soon realised that this was no joke…
The kidnapper said that he was Libyan and this wasn’t his first kidnap-for-ransom, so he knew what he was doing. He would not hesitate to kill her daughter if she didn’t comply. Sharon called Rob, to add him into the conversation. The abductor spelled out his ransom demand, asking for 300,000 rands (at the time, this was about fifty thousand dollars). He was commanding and seemed in control of the situation, they did not doubt for a second that he was serious. Rob and Sharon begged the kidnapper to have mercy on their daughter. They explained that it was the day before her 21st birthday party and said they would do anything to get her home in time. He hung up without any further discussion.
Rob Matthews was beside himself. He knew he needed some help, but didn’t want to do anything to endanger his daughter’s life. He contacted a private investigator who encouraged him to go to the police. Bear in mind, crime in South Africa is rife, and the police force is crippled with the sheer volume of cases coming their way every day. The fact that Rob did not go straight to police is not suspicious at all, he was just looking for the best, fastest way of getting help.
Sharon saw another call come in from Leigh’s phone. This time, Leigh was speaking. Sharon recalled that Leigh sounded different like she had been drugged. But in later years she concluded that her daughter was just petrified and had probably been crying heavily. Leigh said she was okay. She begged her parents not to involve the police. She said that her dad had to be careful because the kidnapper had a gun and he had threatened to use it if needed.
But it was too late, on the advice of the PI, Rob had gone to Johannesburg Central Police Station. Police prioritized Leigh’s case and a task force was assembled, as kidnapping is considered a serious crime, even in a society where violent crime is commonplace.
The Matthews family has only ever been impressed with the way law enforcement handled Leigh’s case. They acted swiftly and brought in a negotiator to coach Rob in speaking with the man who had his daughter. Firstly, he was advised to tell the kidnapper that he could not withdraw the total sum of 300,000 rands on such short notice, but he was able to get 50,000.
The clock was ticking. Nine hours had passed since Leigh was last seen at Bond University. Then, at 7pm, the kidnapper called again. He was clearly agitated about not getting the full amount he had asked for but agreed that he would take it. In the conversation, it came out that Leigh told him her parents weren’t wealthy and they wouldn’t be able to pay the full amount. Perhaps he felt he’d take whatever he could get.
Because the kidnapper was prepared to back down on the amount of the ransom, the police were optimistic – they felt that he was not familiar with the negotiation process and that he was not the professional abductor he claimed to be.
Rob Matthews followed the abductor’s instructions. With the money in an unmarked envelope, he drove to the Grasmere Toll Plaza, south of the city, where he was supposed to stop on a flyover at 8pm, and flash his headlights three times. A police officer hid in the back of his Chrysler Voyager, but as they approached the meeting point, Rob became nervous. He dropped the police officer off at a gas station because he didn’t want to jeopardise Leigh’s safety.
In the stress of the moment, Rob misunderstood the kidnapper’s directions and missed the bridge. The kidnapper, who must have been watching, called him and told him to turn around and stop on the other side of the road. Rob reached the location and pulled over on the shoulder of the way. A man came up behind him, at the back window and ordered him to drop the envelope containing the money on the ground. Rob complied. The person ran away, and Rob was sure he would see his daughter again soon.
Rob drove around, hoping to hear from the kidnapper again. He thought they would probably drop Leigh at a shopping centre or somewhere neutral and that she would call for him to come and fetch her. He went to the gas station where he had left the police officer, and they waited, hoped, but no one called.
The Matthews family was frustrated and felt that the kidnapper was probably holding out for the rest of the money. But he didn’t make contact again. Leigh’s phone was off, so Rob and Sharon could not reach out to her. Everyone waited at the command centre until 1AM in the morning, but there was nothing. Rob and Sharon went home for what would be the first of many sleepless nights.
The following morning, Rob took police to the drop-off location. Looking at the spot, they realised that it wasn’t just a random location. The getaway car was parked below the flyover, which is why the person who took the money came to Rob’s car on foot. Once he had made it back to the car, there was no way the police could have followed him, because there was no highway access. It was all planned in meticulous detail.
Despite police advice not to, Rob and Sharon held a press conference. They felt the more people knew about their missing daughter, the better chances were that someone somewhere would be able to help. The news made all the headlines in what was to become one of South Africa’s most talked-about stories. Kidnap-for-ransom is not a common crime in South Africa, and there was something about the event that didn’t quite fit somehow. In an unfortunate backlash, some reports blamed the Matthews family for involving the police. They also speculated that if Rob had paid the full amount, Leigh would have been released.
The Matthews family didn’t pay attention to the criticism. They were desperate to find their daughter. Where was Leigh? Was she still alive? Why didn’t the kidnapper call?
The task team of 10-members grew to 150. Officers worked in shifts, looking into Leigh’s case 24 hours a day, taking calls, following up on tips and trying to find any information as to the kidnapper’s identity. Multiple psychics called the information line, and police followed up on everything. They left no stone unturned. Private security companies also volunteered assistance, and it seemed like everyone in Jo’burg was looking for Leigh.
But there was no sign of her. Her car was found where she usually parked it in the Bond University parking lot. It was clear that someone else parked it there, however. The driver’s seat was moved back, indicating someone taller than Leigh had driven it. The fans were on full blast, unusual for a mid-winters day. Forensic investigators processed the car for evidence.
Hours turned into days, days into weeks. Then, on the 21st of July, twelve days after Leigh was taken, a municipal worker found a naked body in an open field, off the R82 highway in Walkerville. The worker ran to a nearby pub, where a detective happened to be having lunch. In the afternoon it was confirmed that they had found Leigh Matthews. The family was at the command centre at Johannesburg Central Police Station. When the chaplain came over to speak to Sharon, he didn’t have to say anything, she knew they had found her daughter and that she was no longer alive.
It was devastating news, up to that point, police were still hoping that they would find Leigh alive. A month after she was found, the investigation didn’t seem to be making any progress. In August, South Africa’s top cop, Superintendent Piet Byleveld [Bail-uh-felt], was appointed to the case. He had arrested notorious criminals like the Nasrac Serial Killer and the Wemmerpan Serial killer. He was renowned for building air-tight cases, so the prosecution had a field day in court, leaving offenders with the maximum penalty. He entered the investigation 34 days after Leigh’s body was found and had some catch-up work to do.
Byleveld decided to revisit the three locations where he knew the killer had been: the Bond University parking lot, the money-drop site near Grasmere Toll Plaza and the field where Leigh’s body was discovered. These three locations were cast in stone – the perpetrator had definitely been at all three.
Byleveld re-interviewed witnesses from Bond University, hoping to find more information about the circumstances of the moment of Leigh’s abduction. Cell phone evidence indicated that Leigh’s phone was used at 10:22am at Bond University. The next location was in Walkerville. Then Lenasia in Jo’burg’s south, and lastly from Walkerville again. On a map, the route looks like an inverted T, with Bond University at the top, Walkerville at the bottom right and Lenasia left.
Byleveld also spoke to Eliot Makhubela again, the municipal worker who had found Leigh’s body. He said that he had been out in the field the previous day, in the exact same area and he was sure that Leigh’s body had not been there.
The crime scene yielded few clues. Forensic investigators felt that Leigh was not killed at the location where she was found, but dumped there after the fact. Her nails, already manicured for her party the night after she was abducted, were clean, unusual for the dusty and grubby location where she was found. She had been shot multiple times, yet there was no blood at the scene.
Even though she had no clothes on when she was found, a post-mortem examination found that she had not been sexually assaulted. The pathologist concluded that she was most likely murdered approximately ten days before her body was discovered – that is two days after she was abducted – and kept somewhere cold. Her toes and soles of her feet were red, showing signs of frostbite.
It was evident that during her time in captivity, she was not given anything to eat or to drink: she was dehydrated, and her stomach was empty. Her cause of death was either one of four gunshots wounds to her head and chest. The pathologist advised investigators that the four gunshot wounds would have caused a lot of bleeding, up to 2litres worth. Confirming their suspicion that she could not have been killed at the place where she was found. Which begged the question: where did the kidnapper hold Leigh captive? And where did he kill her? And ultimately: who was the man who took her?
Superintendent Byleveld spoke to Rob and Sharon Matthews again. He asked them if they could recall anything that was said or perhaps there was a unique background sound – anything that could reveal something about the abductor’s identity. Rob said, that, on the night of the money exchange, when he misunderstood the drop-off location, the kidnapper called and lost his temper. He swore and hurled abuse. During a tirade, his accent changed. Rob told Byleveld that he was reasonably sure the person on the other end of the line had an Indian accent. Because of the pointed directions, he gave him, and the ease with which he escaped, Rob also had the sense that the person he was talking to was familiar with the area, a local. Not too far from Walkerville, was Lenasia – an area with a large Indian community.
Byleveld followed up on this information and visited Bond University administration offices. He studied the names of all the students on the roll, specifically ones who studied the same course as Leigh Matthews, paying particular attention to students with Indian last names.
At the same time, Byleveld’s support team combed through stacks of phone records, supplied by the Crime Intelligence Unit, cross-referencing phone calls made from the same location as Leigh’s phone on the day of the abduction.
One name came up a couple of times, a 24-year-old man by the name of Donovan Moodley. Moodley came from a stable and loving home and lived with his parents in Alberton, in the south of Jo’burg. His dad, Steven, was a Baptist Minister and his mom Mary was very active in supporting her husband and was involved in many church activities.
Before starting at Bond University, Donovan Moodley had worked as a financial manager at a travel agency for three and a half years. By all accounts, he had a good working record. When he left his job, he sold his BMW to his sister and brother-in-law, who paid him monthly instalments. He downgraded to a Toyota Tazz but had a motorbike, yellow Ducati that was his pride and joy. For extra income, he owned two coin-operated pool tables, in a bar. He also played in pool tournaments and told people that he often won quite a bit of cash doing so. Other than that, he spent most of his time with his high school sweetheart, Yeshika Singh.
Moodley enrolled as a full-time student in January 2004, and only attended lectures during the first term. He was slightly older than the other students and did not seem to be interested in graduating any time soon. Although he showed up for exams, he never wrote anything on the papers, only his name and student number. It was also interesting, that a couple of weeks before Leigh’s abduction he had notified college administration that he was dropping out.
What caught investigators’ attention was the fact that Moodley had a firearm registered in his name. He owned a Taurus 9mm pistol, the kind of weapon that was used to kill Leigh Matthews.
Leigh’s friends and family did not know Donovan Moodley, so Byleveld did not think that Leigh was friends with him. They could have known each other, of course, as acquaintances. Or he could have been watching her without her knowledge, as many students mulled around campus every day.
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Now, back to today’s episode…
Investigators took a closer look at Moodley. Byleveld had a gut feeling that he was their guy, but from experience, he knew it was essential to collect water-tight evidence against someone before he made an arrest. Faced with indisputable evidence, perpetrators often have no other choice but to confess to their crimes.
Police studied Moodley’s credit card statements and saw that he had booked himself into the Formula 1 Hotel, Sandton for eight days, around the time of Leigh’s disappearance. The hotel is only a short drive from Bond University. Moodley used his own name, his actual ID and even provided his vehicle registration number when he checked in.
In the week after Rob Matthews dropped the 50,000 rand ransom money, there were two large deposits into Moodley’s bank account, adding up to 38,000 rands. Another amount of close to 12,000 rands was spent at a jewelry store at Eastgate shopping centre.
They knew they were up to something and literally tacked each and every transaction made by Moodley. The purchase at the jewelry store was an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Yeshika. He also booked a luxurious holiday in Durban with Yeshika and her relatives and had repairs done on his Ducati motorbike. All up, the expenses added up to over 48,000 rands, leaving only 1,200 rands unaccounted for.
Then came the concrete evidence they were waiting for: when police discovered Leigh’s car in the parking lot at Bond University, there was a discarded Lottery ticket inside. The ticket had a fingerprint on it, belonging to Donovan Moodley. Byleveld and his team wasted no more time and moved in for the arrest.
On the morning of the 4th of October 2004, Donovan Moodley was arrested outside his parents’ home in Brackenhurst, Alberton. As he was handcuffed, he said:
“What took you so long? I was expecting you.”
The arresting team of officers took Moodley back into his home, where his parents Steven and Mary were getting ready for the day. They were shocked and confused to see him in handcuffs and demanded to know what was going on. Donovan Moodley dropped to his knees, as if in prayer, and said:
“I committed a murder. I killed Leigh Matthews.”
His parents were mortified. His mom cried:
“I have prayed every night for the Matthews family. Why?”
Her son looked at the floor, he had no answer.
Investigators found Leigh’s Tanzanite ring in Moodley’s bedroom, hidden inside a CD case. They also found a disc with letters saved on it, addressed to his parents and fiancée, saying that he was sorry and that he knew he was going to prison for at least 30 years.
As soon as his first session of questioning began at the police station, Moodley said that he would tell police everything. He talked them through the kidnapping and the murder. However, his version of events was riddled with inconsistencies. Either way, this is what he told investigators…
Moodley claimed that he kidnapped Leigh because he was desperate for money. He admitted that the idea of kidnapping had been playing on his mind. The easiest way of executing his plan was to take a fellow student and ask her family for money.
In the days leading up to Leigh’s abduction, Moodley told his parents that he was going on a short trip with motorbiking friends and that he would return in a couple of days. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, judging by his packing list. He took with him a balaclava, duct tape, a blanket as well as his fully loaded 9mm pistol.
On Tuesday 6 July, he checked into the Formula 1 Hotel, Sandton, from where he took the 10-minute drive to Bond University campus the next morning. He had not picked his victim yet, but he knew it would be someone from college, as he felt the majority of his classmates came from wealthy families. Ironically, although Leigh’s family lived comfortably, they were not wealthy. In fact, they were not necessarily much higher up on the socio-economic ladder than Moodley’s family.
Donovan Moodley bided his time and went to Bond University campus on the 7th, 8th and 9th of July, prowling the parking lot, looking for his victim. On Friday morning the 9th, he saw Leigh, on her way to her white Toyota Tazz. He asked her for a lift to a nearby intersection. She agreed; the worst decision of her life. In South Africa, where car hijackings occur daily, Leigh was very security conscious. She would habitually remind her family and friends to lock up behind them and lock the doors of their cars while driving. But Moodley was well-dressed, eloquent and unthreatening. To Leigh, he was a fellow student who needed a quick ride, and she was on her way anyway. For Leigh to have agreed to give Moodley a lift, she must have believed that he was harmless. With her guard down, she drove off and made small talk with him.
According to Moodley, as soon as they approached the intersection where she was supposed to drop him off, he pulled out his firearm and pointed it at her head. He forced her into the backseat, and he shifted into the driver’s seat. He found an isolated park where he let her out of the vehicle. He bound her wrists and gagged her, then ushered her into the trunk of her own car. He drove back to the University parking lot, where he parked next to his own vehicle. He waited until the coast was clear, then he transferred his victim into the trunk.
He drove to Walkerville, where he parked in a field and waited. Moodley only used Leigh’s phone to communicate with Leigh’s parents. The Matthews family, together with the police, acted swiftly and were ready to make the drop on the same night. On the night of the money exchange, Leigh was still in the trunk of his car, only yards away from where her dad was parked.
Once Moodley had the money, he wasn’t sure what to do next. He drove around for a while, looking for the best place to leave her. He knew that Leigh would be able to recognise him, knowing that he went to the same University as her. He realised that he would probably not get away with what he had done. That is why he drove back to the location in Walkerville where they waited all day, as he knew it was isolated and there would not be any eyewitnesses.
He opened the trunk and let her out, at gunpoint. Then he ordered her to undress because he wanted to burn her clothes to destroy all evidence. He gave her a blanket for modesty, and as she turned her back on him, he shot her in the back of the head. After that, he dragged her body, deeper into the field and shot her three more times to make sure she was no longer alive.
Then he went to an open lot in Lenasia, close to his parents’ home, where he burnt Leigh’s clothes and belongings, as well as his own. He heard about her Tanzanite ring on the news, so he went back to the burnt evidence and retrieved the ring, late one night.
After he took Leigh, killed her and discarded of her body, Moodley went on with his regular routine, like nothing was wrong. The very night after he killed her, he went to a casino with friends. Moodley also went on a spending spree and bought what he referred to as ‘odds and ends’, explaining the 1,200.00 rand investigators could not trace. He bought an engagement ring with the ransom money he had taken from Rob Matthews and arranged a trip to Durban with Yeshika, her sister and her sister’s husband. While in Durban, they went on a romantic sunset cruise, and he proposed. Yeshika, said yes.
Needless to say, the engagement didn’t last. Moodley broke it off after his arrest, knowing he would be going to prison for a long time. He faced a mountain of irrefutable evidence.
Forensic technicians retrieved two of Leigh’s blonde hairs on the backseat of Moodley’s car. And then, there was the lottery ticket with Moodley’s fingerprint, found in Leigh’s car. Ballistics experts were able to confirm that Moodley’s Taurus 9mm pistol, was the gun used to kill Leigh Matthews. But his story about shooting her when she turned her back on him didn’t add up. Looking at the trajectory of the gunshots, Leigh must have been in a seated position when she was shot. He stood above her and fired downwards, point-blank.
At the location where he had burnt his and Leigh’s clothing, police found the remnants of Leigh’s cell phone, her burnt ID, the underwire of a bra, part of a wristwatch, as well as keys, that proved to be Leigh’s car keys.
Forensic experts testified that the shell casings found at the scene where Leigh’s body was found, did not match the position of her body. The type of weapon used would not have caused the cartridges to have landed next to Leigh’s feet when she was shot in the head and torso. Two bullets went straight through her body, yet, despite extensive searches with metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar, the bullets were never found.
When Leigh’s body was found, the lack of insect activity became vital evidence in the case against Moodley. Decomposition was slowed down by storing her deceased body in a cool place, like a fridge or a freezer. There were flies or ants on her body. In an experiment conducted one year (to the day) after Leigh, was abducted entomologists proved that flies and ants would have been present at the scene and would definitely have gone onto a decaying body, yet, there were absolutely no insects on Leigh.
That is, none except for one… A Grass funnel-web spider. What was significant about this find was that this kind of spider typically weaves a web and comes out to catch its prey once the web is compromised. Yet, the spider on Leigh’s body had virtually no webs. It proved that the spider was only on her body for a very short amount of time, not 10 days as Moodley suggested.
The case was strong. But something still didn’t add up… What about the frostbite on Leigh’s feet? Why did the man who found her body, Eliot Makhubela not see her the day before? Where did Moodley keep her? Where did he shoot her? He was never able to provide an answer to this question.
On the 25th of July 2005, Donovan Moodley pleaded guilty on the three charges against him: murder, kidnapping and extortion. At his trial, Leigh’s family and friends showed up en masse, everyone wearing white ribbons, in memory of Leigh. Moodley had his fair share of support too, with everyone behind him wearing blue ribbons.
The reverend Steven Moodley spoke on his son’s behalf. He said that Donovan’s family stood by him, but as a father, he felt responsible for his son’s deeds and his family was ashamed to be associated with a crime of this nature. Steven said that his son Donovan did not deserve forgiveness from the Matthews family.
Prosecutor Zaais Van Zyl recited a quote from DH Lawrence in court:
“The dead don’t die. They look on and help.”
He said that the injuries on Leigh’s body told law enforcement that there was more to this case, something else that Moodley wasn’t telling them. Despite the prosecutor’s pleas for Moodley to come clean, he gave no additional information.
One inconsistency that troubled investigators, was Moodley’s version that he only pulled out his firearm once he and Leigh had left Bond University campus. The story that Leigh agreed to give Moodley a lift came from Moodley’s confession alone. Leigh knew her mother was coming soon, and she would not have driven off without seeing her mom to hand over her credit card. Chances are that she agreed to give Moodley a lift, then, as soon as they were in the car, she said that she just needed to give something to her mom. Realising that his plan could fall apart, he acted immediately, pointed his gun at her early on in the abduction, essentially hijacking her and forcing her to drive to the park where he bound, gagged and blindfolded her. Then he drove back to the campus where he placed her body in the trunk of his own car. It is a chilling thought that Sharon must have missed her distressed daughter by a minute or two.
In the South African court, there is no jury, and a single judge passes down judgement and sentencing. Donovan Moodley was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for murder, fifteen years for kidnapping and ten years for extortion. The latter two sentences were to be served concurrently. When Judge Joop Labuschagne [Yoa-up Labusch-kach-knee] read the verdict, he stated – for the record – that he believed Moodley did NOT act alone.
Moodley could never explain what he did with Leigh during the time from when she last spoke to her dad, to when she was discovered. Still, Leigh’s family felt that justice was served and that the right person, or at least, one of the right ones, was behind bars. But it wasn’t over yet… Two weeks after his sentencing, in August 2005, Moodley filed an appeal, claiming that he did not kill Leigh after all and that he was framed. Shortly after filing the appeal, he withdrew it again.
The following year, he made another claim, saying he didn’t act alone and that he was framed. Donovan Moodley had changed his story about Leigh’s death. He said that he had crossed paths with a group of Nigerian drug lords. They were after a friend of Moodley’s, who owed them money. To show them that they could trust him, he gave them his firearm. But instead of waiting for Moodley’s friend to pay up, the group decided to kidnap Leigh Matthews. It was not him who shot Leigh, but the Nigerians. He pleaded guilty because he feared for his own life.
His sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal. In 2010, his application for an appeal to the Constitutional Court was denied, and his original sentence was upheld. In 2012 he requested a retrial. At the hearing, he chose to act in his own defence. His reasoning was thorough, and he had clearly used his time behind bars to build his case. In fact, he studied law and became a qualified lawyer. He tried his best to poke holes in Byleveld’s investigation, pouring over the smallest details. However, he was not successful. His request was denied, which meant that he had exhausted all his appeals. Donovan Moodley will have to serve his entire 25-year-life sentence.
With each appeal, the Matthews family did whatever they could to oppose it. Leigh’s mother stated that she doesn’t think Moodley has shown or felt any remorse. His efforts to appeal, it’s to help himself, not to make amends or to do the right thing and reveal the whole story.
Prosecutor Zaais van Zyl is convinced that Moodley will still come forward with the entire truth someday. Not because it is the right thing to do, but because he is a self-serving narcissist who yearns for the limelight.
Superintendent Piet Byleveld retired in August 2010, but the investigation remains open – to this day. Byleveld claims that he knows who assisted Moodley, he has names. But there was not enough evidence to charge them.
“It haunts me,” he admitted.
The retired investigator believed Leigh’s kidnapping was a planned abduction and that no less than five people were involved. In his biography, Byleveld: Dossier of a Serial Sleuth, the retired detective names one of Moodley’s friends, Koogan Reddy. According to Byleveld, there were multiple phone calls between Moodley and Reddy on the day of Leigh’s abduction. Reddy also made a call from the highway, near the Grasmere Toll Plaza at the exact time when Rob Matthew’s made the money drop.
Byleveld also finds it interesting that, at 2pm on the day he kidnapped Leigh, Moodley called his girlfriend Yeshika. Shortly after the call, she left work for no apparent reason. Her phone pinged at Lenasia South, near Walkerville. Remember, Moodley’s phone was used in Lenasia that afternoon. Moodley was also in contact with his business partner, as well as Yeshika’s sister’s boyfriend.
The forensic team also learnt that Moodley was fired from his job as a financial manager because he was suspected of fraud. There wasn’t enough evidence to charge him, so if he was guilty, he managed to get away with it.
Byleveld says that Moodley had a friend who owned a mortuary, fifteen kilometres from the location where Leigh’s body was found. When police started investigating that line of enquiry, the mortuary closed down, and no evidence linking Leigh to the mortuary was found.
Byleveld also makes a shocking revelation. In going through phone records, he was able to establish, that three months before the abduction, Moodley called Leigh on her cell phone, they had a conversation for a couple of minutes. She knew him all along. Which made her so much more vulnerable to the predator that took her.
Donovan Moodley’s kidnapping plot destroyed so many lives. The Moodley family was shattered, and they’re still coming to terms with the fact that despite their best efforts and love, their son grew up to be a cold-blooded murderer. Steven Moodley stepped down from his position as minister of the Baptist Church in Alberton. At a press conference, he said that he and his wife do not believe their son was capable of committing the crime he has confessed to. However, he did express his deepest condolences to the Matthews family.
Moodley’s ex-fiancée, Yeshika Singh, insists she had no idea what extreme measures her boyfriend took to buy her an engagement ring. Her ring was confiscated by the police’s assets forfeiture unit, who visited her at work to get it off her. After the trial, Yeshika left the country and moved to the Czech Republic.
Leigh Matthews was just stepping into adulthood, she had a bright future ahead of her, one she would never get the chance to live. The Matthews family has lost a daughter and sister. They were left to wonder what her life would have been like. She never got to start her career, start a family, live a fulfilled life. Moodley can still see his family, while all that Leigh’s loved ones are left with are memories of a sweet and special young woman, who was taken away from them in the cruellest of ways.
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