The acquittal of two men for the killing of a Kraaifontein constable left her wife reeling outside the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.
“How can you do this? She is gone. She is shot. It is unfair,” Marissa Dixon-Witbooi proclaimed near the steps, directing the statements at acting Judge Sakkie Maartens.
With tears streaming down her face, she told journalists: “How can they say no one is guilty when she was shot dead?”
Dixon-Witbooi, also a police officer, was the life partner of slain Constable Rozelle Witbooi. They had a 5-year-old daughter.
“Justice has not been served,” she said before walking away.
Moments earlier, Maartens had acquitted Mbongiseni Sithelo and Sicelo Kwayimani, both 29, of murder.
A shoot-out took place after Witbooi and colleague Constable Jonathan Koopman responded to an alert about a robbery on a vegetable farm on the outskirts of Kraaifontein in February 2014.
The officers had confronted the pair at an intersection about a kilometre from the farm.
The court had come to the “inescapable conclusion” that great doubt existed as to whether the first shot fired by Sithelo had caused the fatal injury.
Maartens said: “We are simply not in a position to reach a finding beyond reasonable doubt as to which accused pulled the trigger that tragically ended Rozelle Witbooi’s life.”
Sithelo was, however, convicted of two attempted murders.
The first attempted murder related to Witbooi. The second related to Koopman, who was shot at but not wounded.
On that fatal day last year, a gang of men had targeted the farm and stole a phone, laptop and other items from the farmhouse worth about R30 000.
Twelve employees, who were cleaning and packing vegetables in a nearby storeroom, were robbed of their phones.
They were then locked in a walk-in cold room, not in use at the time, for up to an hour.
Maartens found both men guilty of a single charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances, but acquitted them of kidnapping.
The court also convicted Sithelo on charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The judgment shocked Kraaifontein station commander Brigadier Gerda van Niekerk.
Wiping away tears, she said it would not be easy to face her officers back at the station.
“It’s quite difficult to understand how you can find someone guilty of attempted murder and [the woman] is dead. It doesn’t make sense.” News24