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Parents of Leigh Matthews fight parole bid by her killer Donovan Moodley

Donovan Moodley has served 17 years of his life term for the murder of Leigh Matthews. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Donovan Moodley has served 17 years of his life term for the murder of Leigh Matthews. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 21, 2022

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Pretoria - Yesterday was an emotional day for the parents of murdered Bond University student Leigh Matthew, who are opposing Donovan Moodley’s application to be released on parole after serving only 17 years of his life term.

Rob and Sharon Matthews told the media that they were opposed Moodley’s application, as they felt he was not yet ready to be released.

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They were at the Johannesburg Medium B Correctional Services Centre where Moodley appeared before the parole board. The parents said the parole board should know that Moodley had never shown any remorse for murdering their daughter.

On July 9, 2004, Moodley, also a student at Bond University, abducted Matthews at gunpoint from the institution’s parking lot. He tied her hands and gagged her before pushing her into the boot of his vehicle.

Shortly after the kidnapping, a ransom demand was made to Matthews' father Rob, who dropped off R50 000 at a toll plaza, south of Joburg.

Leigh Matthews. Picture: Supplied

On July 24, 2004, Matthews' body was found in an open veld in Walkerville. She had been shot four times.

Matthew's family, with the help of NGO Women and Men Against Child Abuse, earlier held a press conference where they said officials from Correctional Services called them for mediation ahead of Moodley's parole hearing and that there was a possibility of early release.

Rob told the media at the time that there would never be a reconciliation with Moodley and that he wanted him to stay in jail. "He has lied so many times. It is hardly any benefit to get in front of Moodley for the truth."

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Matthews said one aspect that was still missing for them as a family was the details surrounding those 12 days when Moodley took his daughter. "The judge was very clear that the crime was not a crime undertaken by Moodley alone. To this day, we are in limbo and there are no answers that are forthcoming."

Judge Joop Labuschagne dismissed Moodley's application for his conviction to be set aside. "I am satisfied that the applicant's version cannot be true. He is a self-confessed liar.“

Moodley was found guilty in 2005 of the murder and kidnapping of Leigh Matthews, 21, in July 2004, and of extorting money from her father. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping, and 10 years for extortion.

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Rob and Sharon Matthews, parents of slain student Leigh Matthews. Picture: Sapa

Moodley, who pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence all along, claimed former investigating officer Piet Byleveld had manipulated evidence and forced a confession to frame him. He said this was because he had been unable to lead police to the three drug dealers.

Moodley previously appealed against his conviction, but withdrew this application. He also appealed against his sentence, but this was dismissed. The parole board is expected to later decide on whether Moodley will be granted his wish or not.

According to lawyer Julian Knight, Moodley must sit 12 years and three months before he can be considered for parole as he committed the crime before October 2004. Lifers now have to sit 25 years before they’re eligible for parole.

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Pretoria News

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