‘Quarrel over fake contract behind model’s murder’

The State has revealed the suspected motive behind the murder of Miss Soweto Finalist and aspiring model Geneveve Mothupi – an argument over a fake modelling contract.

However, as closing arguments between the defence and prosecution rage on, it will be up to Judge Betty Mahalelo to decide if the circumstantial evidence provided by the State will be enough to warrant a conviction for the alleged murderer, Wellington Mohapi.

Mothupi was found dead in a bathtub at her home in Florida on January 5, 2013, with the State claiming it was Mohapi who had been invited inside before raping and murdering the young woman.

On Thursday, closing arguments began at the High Court in Joburg after the defence chose not to call any witnesses, including Mohapi himself.

According to State prosecutor, Shubnum Singh, there was enough evidence to prove not only that a murder took place, but that Mohapi was the culprit and had chosen not to testify because of massive holes in his story.

The pair had been sharing Facebook messages for months, though the friendly relationship took a turn for the bizarre when Mohapi claimed he was part of the Illuminati and had connections in the modelling world.

Mohapi asked her “in all seriousness if (she was) willing to sacrifice her body and soul, and that she would have to join the Illuminati”. “Gen, to be one of us you must sacrifice your BODY to one of us and Soul to THEM.”

Singh argued that the accused had promised Mothupi a modelling contract, and that after she had invited him to her home and he could not deliver, he had no choice but to kill her to save face. While the defence has argued that Mothupi may have drowned accidentally while drunk or on drugs, Singh insisted that the only medical evidence presented had proven the young woman had been murdered.

The forensic pathologist had noted a blue discolouration around Mothupi’s eye, which indicated a possible blunt force trauma. If she had been knocked unconscious, it would take little effort to drown her, which would explain a lack of other injuries, Singh said. However, she spent much of her argument taking aim at Mohapi’s general dishonesty, from his Facebook messages to the victim to his lying to the investigating officer and Mothupi’s friends and family about even knowing her.

It was only after his fingerprint was found on a bottle of alcohol inside Mothupi’s home that Mohapi admitted he had been inside, and that the pair had had consensual sex, which explained why his semen had been found inside her body.

Singh also alluded to the fact that Mohapi had tried to point the finger at Mothupi’s other male friends and lovers as being responsible, yet each had been able to provide solid alibis proving they had been nowhere near the crime scene.

Meanwhile, Mohapi’s cellphone had pinged off a tower just 180m away from Mothupi’s home on the night it is believed she was murdered, meaning he had to have been within 5km of the house, and not in Hillbrow as he had claimed.

However, defence advocate Harmen van Beek, also pointed out the State had no physical evidence that the murder or rape had taken place, and the forensic pathologist it had relied upon was inconsistent in his testimony throughout his time on the stand. “His evidence was so conflicted. He never came to a proper conclusion on anything,” said Van Beek.

He said even if there was a murder, there was even less evidence that it was his client, and that the State was relying entirely on circumstantial evidence.

The court, he contended, had been asked to make massive leaps in logic to determine if there had even been a murder.

Because of this, there was no way to disprove the numerous other possible ways in which she died, or the potential suspects who could have murdered her.

Because of the lack of forced entry into Mothupi’s home, it was clear she knew her killer, and according to Van Beek, Mothupi’s neighbour, Jefferson Jackson, was likely the one who came inside, as he had been flirting with her on Facebook late that night.

The trial continues.