Terblanche: Cyber Unit issues hamper case

THE case against alleged wife murderer, Arnold Terblanche, has once again been postponed, this time due to the fact that the Cyber Unit in the Eastern Cape does not have the necessary software to extract cellphone data from iPhones.

Terblanche and his co-accused, Reinhardt Leach and Dylan Cullis, recently appeared in the Gqeberha Magistrate’s Court. The matter was postponed to this date for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to make a decision regarding a possible plea bargain for Cullis.

State prosecutor, Advocate Marius Stander, said that the content of the plea bargain is of such a nature that the state has to verify it against the affidavit of the investigating officer.

However, Stander explained that in order for this to be done, the state requires certain cellphone data in the form of WhatsApp communications and voice messages. To acquire this data, a court order is now needed to comply with the new Cyber Law Act.

“Two of these phones are iPhones and the Cyber Unit in the Eastern Cape does not have the necessary software or licensing to download the data. Their licence has expired so they can’t extract the 2021 WhatsApp version,” Stander explained.

He added that the cellphones were then sent to a different province that has the necessary software and licence in place.

“The extraction was done earlier [last] week. The volume was too big and had to be loaded onto an external hard drive. The necessary arrangements have been put in place to collect the hard drive by latest on Monday, October 10,” Stander continued. “A decision will then be taken whether or not the plea bargain will be accepted and whether accused two (Cullis) will then be separated or arraigned along with accused one (Leach) and accused three (Terblanche). This is the reason for the plea bargain not being finalised at this point.”

Terblanche’s legal representative, Alwyn Griebenouw, said that his client has been in custody for almost a year and that this month it will be a year that the police has had Terblanche’s cellphone since it was obtained before his arrest.

Griebenouw wanted to know why, since the state said on July 12 that the investigation had been completed, that was not enough time to obtain the cellphone data.

“The position of the plea bargain should not have an influence on the high court date. In all probability we will only receive a pre-trial date during the second term of next year. The quicker we get this matter to the High Court, the quicker we can get a trial date,” he said.

Griebenouw then asked the court to make an order that an indictment be served to Terblanche on the next court date and the matter be transferred to the High Court.

Stander had no objection to this and the order was granted by Magistrate Abigail Beeton.

Stander said that if the plea bargain is still not ready by the next date of appearance, an indictment would be served to all three accused.

Before leaving court, Stander raised his dissatisfaction with the fact that Leach apparently had come from the North End Prison when it was specifically ordered for him to be detained at St Alban’s Prison.

Leach’s legal representative, Theuns Roelofse, had nothing to say about this and Beeton told Stander to contact the Department of Correctional Services about this issue. She signed and authorised another J7 form for Leach to be detained at St Albans and postponed the matter to October 28. This date will be for a transfer to the high court and the accused to be served with indictments.

The three are accused of conspiring and murdering Terblanche’s estranged wife, Vicki, in October last year. Her body was found in a shallow grave in Greenbushes. She was 42 years old and the mother of Terblanche’s 12-year-old son. During their appearance, Cullis stepped into court and winked at someone in the gallery.

He winked at the person again before leaving. On his way out of the courtroom, Terblanche took his girlfriend, Krystal Wiggill, by the waist while the two shared a passionate kiss.