South Africa


Former rugby player arrested in Kinnear investigation set to appear in Cape Town court

Former rugby player arrested in Kinnear investigation set to appear in Cape Town court
Charl Kinnear (Photo by Noor Mohammed)

Investigators used the same cellphone technology that the suspect allegedly used to track the cellphone of murdered Anti-Gang Unit Lieutenant Charl Kinnear to arrest a 39-year-old former rugby player, who will be charged with complicity in the murder.

The suspect from Springs, east of Johannesburg, who owns a tracking and investigation company, is due to make his first appearance in the Bishop Lavis Magistrates’ Court in Cape Town on Friday 25 September.

He is not expected to enter a plea and the charge sheet outlining the case he faces will be handed to the court. The man was apprehended on Wednesday 23 September at 10pm at his house.

Charl Kinnear was assassinated on Friday 18 September outside his house at 10 Gearing Road, Bishop Lavis. Shortly afterwards, investigators removed the dead detective’s cellphone and dockets from his car.

National Crime Intelligence, working with the Hawks on the investigation, requested a location-based service (LBS) forensic report to trace the tracker of Kinnear’s cellphone. The LBS report pointed investigators to exactly where and for how long Kinnear had been tracked.

The arrested suspect had allegedly tracked Kinnear’s cellphone for months and, according to sources close to the investigation, had been requested by a man who identified himself as “Mohamad” to track the cellphone of his (Mohamad’s) wife.

The suspect has claimed he was unaware that the phone he had been asked to track was Kinnear’s. The Anti-Gang Unit section leader’s phone was pinged more than 2,000 times, including throughout the day on which he was murdered.

The former rugby player, said sources, is a debt collector for car finance defaulters. The man’s line of work would have given him access to the technology that would have enabled him to easily and cheaply keep track of Kinnear.

Tracker companies are authorised to ping SIM cards often when a tracker unit stops transmitting. Networks allow tracker companies to ping their own units cheaply.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, confirming the arrest, indicated that more arrests could not be excluded as the investigation was still under way. This would imply that a larger group of individuals acted in common purpose to kill Kinnear.

Springs was Kinnear’s last stop during his investigation into alleged underworld boss Nafiz Modack. He also investigated eight high-ranking police officers accused of colluding with fellow officers at the Central Firearms Registry. 

Legal experts said because there clearly had been a tremendous amount of planning in the murder, the arrested suspect could be facing charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Top detectives, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed that the order to “take out” Kinnear led back to his investigation in Gauteng and that corrupt police officers had colluded with underworld figures to kill him. 

“They wanted to stop Kinnear in his tracks from exposing more corrupt police officers. The other vital piece of evidence was the two dockets Kinnear brought back implicating underworld figures from Cape Town in extortion charges.” 

More alarming is that the safe location of officers who worked with Kinnear on these cases might have been compromised while Kinnear’s phone was tracked. Kinnear had visited the houses of these officers, giving rise to fears that they had been exposed.

John Alexander, an investigator at Royal Investigation who is familiar with tracking, shed some light on how the Hawks might go about tracing the cellphone of “Mohamad”. 

Alexander said investigators would firstly have to apply for an order in terms of section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act to obtain the cellphone records of the suspect. 

“Every cellphone has an IMEI [international mobile equipment identity] number which is unique. An IMEI search will indicate how many SIM cards a specific cellphone used. It is vital that investigators locate a cellphone of the person called Mohamad on the cellphone records of the suspect. This will give police an indication of the location of this Mohamad person and from where his calls were made,” Alexander said. 

Legal experts said because there clearly had been a tremendous amount of planning in the murder, the arrested suspect could be facing charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The planned murder of Kinnear mirrored, in some regards, the plot by Najwa Petersen, wife of musician and composer Taliep, to murder him on 16 December 2006.

Taliep Petersen was executed in the lounge of his home. It was later discovered that Najwa Petersen had plotted the murder with several men, who became her co-accused.

Judge Siraj Desai, sentencing NajwaPetersen and her co-accused on 11 February 2009, said that while Najwa had solicited the murder, the killers had caused Taliep Petersen’s death. The group was found to have acted with common purpose.

It is likely that common purpose will form the basis of charges once all the suspects in Kinnear’s murder are rounded up.

Meanwhile, the search continues for the suspect who squeezed the trigger several times, killing Kinnear at point-blank range.

Information from residents about a possible suspect yielded no success as the gunman had worn a hoodie which had shielded his face. DM


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