Before I cover day 2 and 3 of the trial of ex-Warrant Officer Johann Burmeister, let me explain, simply, how ridiculous this situation is:
Johann Burmeister, a detective in the Knysna SAPS with 3 decades experience on the force, retrieves a recovered, stolen laptop from evidence at the Knysna police station in November 2013. His intention is to discover who the owner is. Sergeant Maurice Grootboom is in charge of evidence that day. He’s busy taking an affidavit so lets Burmeister take it without officially booking it out.
Burmeister takes the laptop to IT Futures who identify the possible owner through a CV on it. He visits Jandre Dippenaar who positively identifies the laptop as his. His father, Radie Dippenaar, is the one who opened the case of theft. As Burmeister does not have the requisite SAPS 136 ‘handover’ form on him, Burmeister tells the Dippenaars that they must fetch the laptop from the police station. Burmeister then claims he returned the laptop but cannot recall which clerk received it.
The following month, when the Dippenaars go there to claim the laptop it cannot be found. In 2012, Johann Burmeister is kicked off the police force and charge criminally for theft of the computer.
Let’s review why the action against Burmeister doesn’t add up at all and why so many Knysna citizens are alleging conspiracy and hundreds giving their support to the Burmeister family:
1. For the Knysna SAPS’ case against Burmeister to be tangible, this clever, successful and famous detective would have to be the dumbest criminal ever. He identifies the owner of the laptop, shows it to him, and tells him to collect it. That is not the behaviour of a man with poor intentions.
2. Even the prosecutor’s police witnesses have stated that that is not the behaviour they’d expect of a criminal and all, without exception, have testified to Burmeister’s reputation as trustworthy.
3. In his 32 years in the police force, Burmeister has never had his trustworthiness questioned except when he tried to protect a witness in the famous Knysna Waterfront, cocaine bust.
4. The chain of evidence shows that Sergeant Maurice Grootboom handed the laptop over to Warrant Office Christopher Appels who handed it over to Sergeant Carmen Coetzee, the SAP13 clerk who, along with Warrant Officer Abrahams Coetzee, are responsible for the evidence storeroom at the back of the police station.
5. Successive monthly audits by Captains compared their lists to the registery entry supplied by Sgt Coetzee and sent certificates to provincial headquarters that said all property was accounted for.
6. Despite fingers needing pointing at many for possible bad auditing and lack of control of evidence, in contravention of standing orders, and that the buck, so to speak, seems to rest with Sgt Coetzee, Warrant Officer Johann Burmeister is treated as the only suspect by Colonel Jeffrey Matiwane and Captain Patrick Gogwana… and then booted out the police force. He is then criminally charged and Thibedi, a senior prosecutor based in George, decides, strangely, to pursue the case.
7. Colonel Matiwane is then promoted to a more important position in George Cluster under which Knysna falls. He is now considered to be one of the most senior policemen there, along with Colonel Chris Marnewick and Colonel Derek Daniels. Captain Gogwana is promoted to Major.
8. The names mentioned in point 7 above all play a part in Burmeister’s trial. Three of them feature in an alleged and rumoured conspiracy against Burmeister.
- Colonel Matiwane, in his statement in the internal disciplinary inquiry, said that he’d met with Sgt Coetzee before making his decision to prosecute Burmeister. When Godwana was called to Matiwane’s office, Coetzee was there. This suggested a consultation with Coetzee is strange considering she should be a suspect.
- Colonel Marnewick is the long-term lover of Coetzee.
- Colonel Daniels was seen in the courtroom, on the first day of trial and alleged, by those next to him, to have been illegally recording. He was then seen by several, including myself, seemingly coaching Coetzee on the bench outside. It is important to note that Daniels is the Head of Crime Intelligence for the Southern Cape i.e. what’s he doing getting involved in case of petty theft?
So there you have it… does it make sense to you?