- Charles Daniels echoed murder accused Jeremy Sias’ claims of being assaulted by the police after being arrested in connection with Meghan Cremer’s disappearance.
- He had been tasked by Sias to find a buyer for Cremer’s stolen car.
- Daniels showed Judge Elizabeth Baartman a small scar he claims he sustained after a police dog was set on him.
Jeremy Sias’ former co-accused on Monday corroborated his police assault claims, pointing to a small scar where he alleges a K9 Unit dog bit into his stomach.
Charles Daniels, 41, was arrested shortly before Sias after he was caught driving Meghan Cremer’s stolen car without number plates.
Cremer, 29, was strangled with a blue ribbon on 3 August 2019.
Daniels told the Western Cape High Court that the day before he was taken into custody, Sias and his friends had arrived in the vehicle at his house in Egoli informal settlement, asking him if he had a possible buyer for the car.
“He knows I am in the car business and can have the vehicle sold. He [and the passengers] got out and took the box of wine and Kentucky [Fried Chicken] that they had with them,” he testified.
Daniels lives on a main road and drove the car to a more central spot because he didn’t want it parked in plain sight.
The next day he went to the nearby Jim se Bos informal settlement after locating a possible buyer. On his way, he picked up Siraaj Jaftha, who would later become the third accused in the matter.
The potential buyer pulled out of the deal, Daniels said, and he was later pulled over by the police while on his way to drop Jaftha at home.
Charles Daniels outside the Western Cape High Court.
They were arrested and taken to the police station, he said, where they were assaulted and had their feet kicked out from underneath them.
“They asked us where the woman was, the owner of the vehicle. We didn’t know what they were referring to and I told the detective I got the car from ‘Bompie’ [Sias’s nickname],” he said.
Sias had told him he had “got” the car in Stellenbosch, Daniels testified.
He took the officers to where Sias lived. The officers found him in a neighbouring home, belonging to his partner’s brother.
At the police station’s parking area, Daniels said he and Sias were tied together and asked where the woman was.
“I told them I don’t know anything about a woman. Then started assaulting me and Jeremy.”
He said a white plank was used to beat them, although he managed to dodge the blows while Sias was “hit the most”.
Their feet were again kicked from under him, he said, and their hands were cuffed together and used to drag them across the floor.
The assault continued, he claimed, and the officers then went to fetch dogs to attack them.
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“They held the dogs close enough to almost bite us. But the dog managed to bite me on the stomach. I have a scar here,” he told Judge Elizabeth Baartman.
He lifted his clothes, showing her a tiny scar just above his groin, about half a centimetre wide.
The dog didn’t manage to sink its teeth into him, he clarified, saying it had just “pinched” him.
Sias had been wearing gumboots, he told the court, and the dog had “pulled apart” his footwear.
They were then taken inside the police station to have their statements taken before being placed in the holding cells.
Charles Daniels points out a scar he claims was inflicted by a police dog.
The following day he was interrogated by officers from Grassy Park police.
“They said they know I steal and deal in cars. They asked me to give my cooperation and please inform them of the whereabouts of the lady.”
He said he later learnt that Sias had led police to Cremer’s body.
Daniels and Jaftha were nevertheless charged with the murder, car theft and defeating the ends of justice. Bail was denied.
Daniels said when they were taken to Pollsmoor Prison, they were assaulted by the warders who had read about them in the media.
“There was a time where we had to hide from the [warders] between other inmates. They said ons het die vrou opgeklim [we had raped her] and as they said these words, they would assault us.”
Daniels and Jaftha’s case was later separated from Sias, who is alone standing trial for the murder.
Daniels pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of stolen property and was handed a four year sentence, of which he served a year.
The case against Jaftha was withdrawn.
Meghan Cremer’s mother, Gill, pictured outside court.
Gallo Images Gallo Images/Brenton Geach
Daniels is a defence witness in a trial-within-a-trial, in which Sias is challenging the admissibility of statements he made to police saying he had killed Cremer, prior to him leading authorities to where she had been dumped on 3 August 2019.
He contends he said this after he was assaulted, threatened, promised a lesser sentence in a lower court, and not properly informed that he had the right to legal representation.
Sias has maintained throughout his trial that he had found her dead body in the boot of her Toyota Auris after taking the car for a joyride. According to him, he had discovered it parked on the Vadelandsche Rietvlei farm, where he worked and Cremer lived, with the key in the ignition.
He denies killing her.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Emily van Wyk pointed out the differences between Daniels and Sias’ versions.
The murder accused had alleged that a gun had been held against Daniels’ head during their alleged ordeal. Daniels, however, said he could not recall that happening.
“A firearm is something I would definitely remember,” he said.
According to Daniels, there had been numerous dogs with the police officers who had arrested him. Sias and the sergeants involved in apprehending them testified there had only been one dog.
Daniels had also mentioned that a passerby was arrested with him and Jaftha, as officers had believed she had been with them. She was later released, he testified.
Both claimed they had been assaulted with a pole. However, their measurements of the weapon differed, as well as how they were beaten.
Sias had claimed they had been hit with it. But according to Daniels, police had swung it at them like a cricket bat.
“We were cuffed together – one hand each. I dodged and used Jeremy as a shield,” Daniels testified.
Van Wyk put it to him that Sias had made no mention of the two of them being dragged by the cuffs, but claimed the officer had tramped on it while they stood.
Daniels stuck to his version.
“[Police] are used to assaulting [suspects]; they are cowards. I have been arrested before – every time they do the same thing. I don’t know if they were bullied as little ones,” he added.
Van Wyk asked Daniels why he had not sought medical attention for the wound inflicted by the dog.
“It was just a scratch. It was open, but the blood didn’t flow,” he responded.
Daniels said he and Jaftha at one point demanded to know from Sias “what was happening” as he was repeatedly collected from the holding cells.
“I realised it was something serious [because of how badly they assaulted us]. I have been arrested many times for possession of stolen vehicles and car theft.”
He, however, was not prepared to go to jail for murder, he said.
The trial was postponed to next week Thursday for argument.