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3 Ketani accused turn state witness

The men have received lenient sentences after pleading guilty and agreeing to testify for the state.

The six men accused of Betty Ketani's murder. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Three of the accused in the Betty Ketani murder trial have pleaded guilty and received lenient sentences in return for agreeing to testify for the state when the trial resumes.

Monday was set to be the first day of a four-week trial but both sides will now need more time to prepare and the matter has been postponed.

Six men, including two policemen, were arrested after a letter believed to be a confession was found hidden under a carpet.

The letter was allegedly written by Carrington Laughton.

One of those who pleaded guilty, Conway Brown, lived in the house where the letter was found.

He has now admitted to attempted murder and being an accessory to the actual murder, and has received a five-year prison sentence, of which he is likely to only serve a fraction.

Two of the other accused, Paul Toff-Nielsen and Dirk Reyneke, have both admitted to being involved in the crime and received either suspended sentences or correctional supervision.

All three are now state witnesses against Laughton and the two police brothers also implicated in the crime.

The men allegedly kidnapped and murdered Ketani in 1999. She worked as a chef at the popular Cranks restaurant in Rosebank.

Her brother Eric earlier said the trial marks the end of a long and painful journey.

He said he hoped his sister's killers would be severely punished, saying, "They must go behind bars for many, many years."

It was widely expected that some of the accused would turn state witness and that the trial would be delayed.

Other witnesses will include police investigators, Ketani's family members and the owner of the restaurant where she worked, who is now believed to be living in Thailand.

DNA PROOF

Laughton has repeatedly attacked the strength of the state's case.

He has tried to discredit DNA and handwriting results which have emerged since his first bail application.

However, the court found that since the arrest the state's case has been bolstered by DNA tests carried out in Bosnia - as well as handwriting evidence.

The DNA tests show a positive link between bones found in a shallow grave and the murdered mother of three.

The bones are a crucial part of the state's case.

A total of six tiny foot bones were flown thousands of kilometres to be matched to DNA samples taken from Ketani's three children.

As the children don't share a father, experts in Bosnia warned the bones aren't conclusive enough to be used on their own and must be used alongside other evidence.

However the bones show they are 5,000 times more likely to belong to her than to another human being.