Gregg Pettigrew (right) with Dean Jeran in 2020 (Photo: @Pups_Hampster / Twitter)
Gregg Pettigrew, the soap actor accused of murdering his boyfriend, has had previous run-ins with the law and once even made South African LGBTQ+ history.
Pettigrew, 51, is alleged to have shot dead his 29-year-old partner Dean Jeran in their cottage in Kempton Park, outside of Johannesburg, last week.
Police were called to the scene by the landlord. They found Pettigrew heavily sedated in bed next to Jeran’s body. Pills discovered nearby suggest that he tried to take his own life by overdosing after allegedly shooting Jeran.
Initial reports erroneously claimed that an actor from the soap series 7de Laan was involved, leading to speculation as to the identity of the alleged killer.
Pettigrew – who describes himself on Facebook as an actor, director and cabaret artist with over 30 years of experience – is instead best known for his role as Ge in the series Getroud Met Rugby.
He’s performed shows as his drag alter ego, Falicity Spitfire, and also appeared in a 2020 episode of the cooking reality show Come Dine Me South Africa, in which he was the winner.
In 2021 and 2022 he directed a local production of the iconic gay Broadway play Love! Valour! Compassion! in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Gregg Pettigrew and his then partner were accused of preying on Joburg’s LGBTQ+ community
In 2014, however, Pettigrew made headlines for an issue very unrelated to his showbiz career. Then known as Gregg Wiggill, he and Australian John Pettigrew became the first same-sex couple to marry in a South African detention centre.
The two men tied the knot at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Johannesburg.
Wiggill, dubbed the Melville Fraudster, and Pettigrew were accused of defrauding members of Johannesburg’s gay and lesbian community in 2008 and 2009; including customers of the city’s then-popular Oh Bar.
They were arrested for fraud and were initially denied the right to marry by the Department of Correctional Services while awaiting trial in an East London prison.
While they at first were allowed to stay in the same cell, they later laid a discrimination complaint against the prison head after they were separated following claims that they had been caught having sex.
After being released on bail, they went on the run until they were rearrested. Wiggill was eventually handed a suspended sentence while Pettigrew was acquitted.
Their plans to marry were then further stymied when Pettigrew was placed in the repatriation centre as his visitor’s visa had expired. The Department of Home Affairs also refused to allow them to wed because Pettigrew was in the country illegally.
The couple took the matter to the Johannesburg High Court, which ruled in their favour and ordered the department to let the men marry. It’s believed they later divorced and that Pettigrew, who kept his married surname, began his romance with Jeran around 2020.
Pettigrew was scheduled to appear in court on Monday to face charges of murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. According to the Daily Sun, this was postponed until he is released from the hospital, expected to be later this week.