The Western Cape Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has confirmed that Mario-Cesar Deus Yela, the Spanish dentist accused of murdering his two children in a Hout Bay flat, committed suicide by way of an overdose while awaiting trial in Pollsmoor Prison.
Lewies Davids, spokesperson for the department, said: “On the morning of Monday January 14, at 7.45am during unlock, an official found the (man) dead in his cell.
“We summoned the nurse to do the necessary in terms of confirming the death and she indicated that it appears (he) committed suicide through overdose,” said Mr Davids.
The case was reported to SAPS and the family was contacted and informed.
He said the department’s regional commissioner has since called for a formal investigation into Mr Yela’s death, which will include a full incident report. The matter has also been reported to the SAPS.
Mr Yela is accused of killing his three-year-old twins, Maximo and Octavia, at the Princess Beach flats in Hout Bay on April 6, 2017. It was reported at the time (“Spanish father goes on trial for murder,” Sentinel March 30, 2018), that he was staying at the complex while exercising his visitation rights.
The Wynberg Magistrate’s Court had previously heard that the twins’ mother, Julia Engelhorn, divorced from Mr Yela in 2015, had found them dead after arriving at his flat on April 6.
Her ex-husband was scheduled to return home to Spain that afternoon.
Mr Yela’s defence attorney, William Booth, expressed shock at his death and said Mr Yela’s family are “traumatised”.
Mr Booth labled the DCS’ ruling his death as a suicide as “premature” as the outcome of his autopsy was still pending.
Mr Booth said he had seen Mr Yela twice over the festive period and that Mr Yela had personally made a phone call to his family this past weekend.
“And he seemed fine,” Mr Booth said.
Mr Yela was due back in the Cape High Court on Monday February 4 as the Department of Justice had been waiting to procure the services of an independent translator.