Lee Matthews

Image via: Adobe Stock

Leigh Matthews: Family objects to murderer’s parole bid

The family of Leigh Matthews objects to her murderer, Donovan Moodley, seeking parole instead of serving life in jail.

Lee Matthews

Image via: Adobe Stock

The family of Leigh Matthews reacted emotionally to the possibility that her killer might be released on parole. Donovon Moodley was sentenced to life in prison in August 2005 after he kidnapped and murdered Matthews on 9 July 2004.

Matthews was kidnapped one day after her 21st birthday outside the parking lot of the Bond University in Johannesburg where she was studying. Moodley was also a student at the university, however, they did not know each other.

Her father, Rob Matthews, received a ransom demand of R50 000 – a demand he complied with. However, he never got to see his daughter alive. She was later found dead with four gunshot wounds in a field in Walkerville on 21 July 2004.


The family held a media briefing together with Women & Men Against Child Abuse in Johannesburg to express their dismay and objection to parole for Moodley.

A banner displaying the message “ SA’s Parole System failing victims. No Parole for Donovon Moodley, convicted and sentenced to life for the murder of Leigh Matthews,” was on display.

Her emotional father, Rob, indicated that they were informed by somebody at the Correctional Services Department that Moodley was seeking parole.

Spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services, Logan Maistry, was reported to have said:

“No parole decision has been taken and the Department of Correctional Services is in consultation with the victims. Parole is not a right and related decisions must comply with relevant legislation. Once all requirements have been complied with, and due process completed, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services will make a decision.”

Rob said the problem the family faced presently was getting Correctional Services to respond to questions they have concerning Moodley’s parole bid. According to Rob, Correctional Services would have people believe that the tagging system will help paroles behave when they release from prison. The family does not believe this.

“We had overwhelming support when Leigh died. What happens to those people who don’t have a voice like myself? When he [Moodley] was sentenced. It was a life sentence we thought, great. In the old South Africa, the death penalty existed. We don’t subscribe to that. The life [Donovan’s] sentence must be carried out,” said Rob.

Rob indicated Lee’s murder has been traumatising for the family. His surviving daughter, Karen, continues to receive counselling.

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