Three weeks after the murder of former South African soccer star Marc Batchelor, the police investigation has revealed a stormy relationship between him and his fiancée Cheré Gray.
Several friends of the couple — who have been interviewed by police — told the Sunday Times this week that Batchelor had pleaded with her to return home after a falling-out, promising to pay her R50,000 a month and buy her a car if she came back.
Police have been given a voice note in which a man — believed to be Batchelor — begs Gray to reunite with him.
In the voice note, sent to a Cape Town-based friend who Gray was staying with, and which the Sunday Times has heard, Batchelor professes his “unconditional love” and financial support for her.
“This is how much I love her. It’s not about only emotional and physical, it is also about financial. I will put the car in her name. I will get her a decent car. I want Cheré to be committed to me and care for me the way I care for her.
“She will get everything she wants, love, kindness and lots of financial security. I am not trying to buy her, but trying to show how much I am committed to her. All she must do is just take 10% of her heart and open up to me.
“I need her in my business with her keenness and sharpness. I love her with all my heart and have missed her.”
When Gray spoke to the Sunday Times days after the murder, she described Batchelor as her “everything”.
“He was my enigma, my hero. Yes, he had a temper, but he was quick to forgive. We were best friends and our hearts were destined for each other,” said Gray, who was also Batchelor’s business partner in his debt-collecting business.
Multiple attempts to reach Gray for comment more recently failed.
Gray’s estranged sister, Sasha Gray, said: “I have not seen or heard from her. I have nothing to say on this matter. The family have nothing to do with her or the people involved in this.”
The Cape Town friend has also helped police secure CCTV footage, which was recorded shortly after the voice note was sent.
The footage, recorded on May 3, shows Gray being collected from a Blouberg house in Cape Town by four bodyguards, who the friend described as “frightening Congolese characters”.
He said she was taken to Cape Town International Airport and “escorted onto a flight to Johannesburg to return to Batchelor”.
Batchelor was gunned down in the driveway of his Olivedale home in Johannesburg on July 15 by two men on a motorbike.
Mystery continues to surround his assassination and the motive for his mafia-style killing.
Police, who are yet to identify the gunmen, are investigating several motives for his killing, including that he failed to pay over a R3.5m debt he collected for an Israeli businessman and that he may have been involved in the theft of a ton of cocaine smuggled into SA between December and January, a crime intelligence source with knowledge of the case said.
Police have remained tight-lipped on their investigation, refusing to answer detailed questions.
But sources said that also of interest to detectives are a series of mysterious cellphone messages sent from Batchelor’s phone both before and a day after his death, including the voice note.
The crime intelligence source said the cellphone messages and CCTV footage formed part of the investigation.
“Detectives want to know more about this incident.”
Businessman Anton Goosen, who was friends with Gray and Batchelor, said detectives had questioned him over several aspects of the investigation.
“This thing [the fights between Batchelor and Gray] with them was exhausting. I often played messenger between them. It was chaos.”
He said Gray stayed with his family after she fled from her previous boyfriend, Andrew Turnbull.
He was facing charges of assaulting Gray, but was killed in a high-speed car crash in the Eastern Cape in May.
Goosen said the police, who he will meet again next week, had asked him about certain WhatsApp messages sent to him by Batchelor and Gray.
A former friend of Gray’s, asking to remain anonymous, said she had provided police with copies of messages sent to her from Batchelor’s cellphone a day after his death. The messages were sent via an encrypted messaging system called Signal.
One message, which the Sunday Times has seen, asked why the friend was blocking calls from Batchelor’s phone.
She said she freaked out when she received the message.
“The detectives questioned me over this and asked about Cheré. The officers said they were trying to locate her.”