Pretoria – Pretoria lawyer and businessman Nico Henning is believed to have walked out of the dock a free man on Monday with a little help from his old friend and convicted murderer Andre Gouws.
While no reason was given for withdrawing charges against Henning, speculation was rife that Gouws did not keep his promise to take the stand against Henning. Gouws holds the key to the reasons for the murder of Henning’s estranged wife Chanelle on November 8, 2011.
He said his close friend Henning, whom he referred to as “The Godfather”, asked him to find someone to kill Chanelle.He asked his other friend, former Nigerian Olympic athlete Ambrose Monye, also known as the “Druglord of Gauteng” if he could assist with the killing. Monye agreed to find a hitman and earlier testified that he had never met Henning himself.
The pair undertook to testify in Henning’s trial and had expected a lighter sentence in return. But the judge sentenced each to life imprisonment. Henning was until yesterday out on R10 million bail.
With a slight smile on his face, Henning walked out of the dock in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Monday after the prosecution withdrew its case against him.
However, the man accused of masterminding the murder of his estranged wife knows that the charges can be reinstated at any time.
He looked relieved outside court, but said he was not going to comment on the matter. His advocate Piet van Wyk simply said they noted the fact that the charges had been dropped. However, he confirmed that they could be reinstated at any time.
“We know that the prosecuting team is well experienced and we have reason to believe that they are well prepared and had consulted thoroughly. We take note of their decision not to prosecute.”
Van Wyk expressed the hope that Henning and Chanelle’s parents, Ivan and Sharon Saincic, would now be able to continue with their lives.
The parents, who are looking after Henning’s son, 7, with Chanelle, were not at court. They also did not answer their phone throughout the day when attempts were made to contact them for comment.
The news of the dropping of the charges came as a surprise as the media had prepared to spend the next few weeks listening to evidence of what motivated the cold-blooded hit on the blonde mother.
Veteran prosecutor Gerrie Nel – known for not easily giving up on a case – simply told Judge Eben Jordaan that the State was at this stage not ready to proceed and was compelled to withdraw all charges. This came after the case had dragged on for a year.
This means that Henning is off the hook for now, but the State can reinstate charges against him at any time as he was not formally acquitted.
Henning, who entered the court building hours before the case was due to start, was nowhere to be seen until the judge had entered the courtroom.
He then slipped into court and took his place in the dock. The proceedings took only a few minutes.
Previously, when the case was yet again postponed, Chanelle’s mother remarked that “this is just taking too long”.
At the time she and her husband vowed not to miss a single day of their son-in-law’s trial.
It is well known that they don’t see eye-to-eye with Henning.
“We are ready for round three,” Sharon had told the Pretoria News during the previous postponement of the case.
She and her husband attended the first round – when the actual hitmen, Doepie du Plessis and Pike Pieterse, were each sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.
The pair waited for Chanelle outside the Faerie Glen nursery her son attended.
Du Plessis fired at Chanelle after she dropped the boy off while Pieterse drove the getaway motorcycle with Du Plessis on the back.
The pair told the court they had been instructed by Gouws and Monye to kill Chanelle.
Monye and Gouws, during round two of the trial, vehemently denied any knowledge of the killing.
It was only shortly before they were due to be sentenced that they decided to come clean.