Marleen Konings: The Missing Dutch Girl
The trial began on December 1, 2004, in the Cape High Court. Ferdinandt Mostert stood accused of two counts of murder, nine counts of fraud, five counts of theft, two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, two counts of the possession of unlicensed firearms, two counts of the illegal possession of ammunition, and one count of violating his parole conditions. Twenty-three charges in all. Spanning five provinces—Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Northwest, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.
Mostert responded by discharging his state-appointed attorney and informing the judge that he would be representing himself. Despite Mr Justice Dennis van Reenen's misgivings, the accused expressed his belief in his own competence. The judge relented, stating that Mostert could reacquire representation at any time.
Mostert proceeded to plead guilty to 16 of the charges. Included in the remaining seven were the two murder charges. Marleen's parents, who returned to South Africa for the trial, audibly voiced their indignation when he denied responsibility for their daughter's death. Mostert declined to give any plea explanation related to these charges.
Nevertheless, he did plead guilty to fraudulently using Marleen's credit card after her death and also to selling her stuff.
State advocate Jan Theron entered Mostert's confession into evidence, but stated that the accused's claim that Marleen's death had been an accident was false. Instead, he held that Mostert had willfully lured her into the Tradouw Pass and killed her in cold blood. He then stole all her possessions, selling those he could and dumping the rest. Not only did he impersonate M.E. Konings on multiple occasions, but he even phoned her friend in Germany, trying to convince her that he was "Dr Smith" and that Marleen was in hospital, ill but otherwise all right.
On Friday, December 3, 2004, the Konings family visited the place where Marleen had been found just shy of a year before. They brought a stone memorial with them. "We experienced rage together with unbelievable sadness, while we also felt powerless because we couldn't prevent what had happened to her," Marleen's father told Die Burger of December 7, 2004. But they were also moved by the numerous dried roses and messages of sympathy they found there.
The State called many witnesses, particularly relating to the two murder charges. On February 3, 2005, the prosecutor rested. On the following Monday, Mostert declined to testify on his own behalf, nor would he call any witnesses. Instead, he decided to merely argue certain points of the State's case. Which meant that he could only argue based on evidence already before the court (the vast majority of which was entered in order to give credence to the prosecutor's case).
Whatever he had intended to achieve with this move, the judge found him guilty on both murder charges. In addition, he said that, in Marleen's case, Mostert satisfied the conditions for a prescribed life sentence.
"This attractive and wealthy student's well-intentioned invitation for Mostert to travel with her in December 2003," Judge Van Reenen said according to Die Burger of February 11, 2005, "was like manna from heaven for him." He speculated that Mostert's motive seemed to have been to "eliminate" Marleen so as to rob her of her possessions, and he specifically mentioned Mostert's attempts to drug her.
Mostert was visibly disappointed. When asked whether he had anything to say to Marleen's family, he replied that "nothing I say will change the matter. I pleaded not guilty on the seven charges because I'm not guilty of them. The court rejected what I said about it." This last sentence is interesting, given the fact that he declined to give any evidence before the court.