Police officers who were involved in handling the three men accused of a double murder and rape at Rhodes Park testified during a trial-within-a-trial at the high court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
The trial-within-a-trial is being held to decide the admissibility of certain evidence in the case.
Edmore Ndlovu, 23, Thabo Nkala, 25, and Mduduzi Lawrence Mathibela, 32, all claim they were severely assaulted and pressurised to give statements implicating them in the crime and were also forced to do the pointing out at the park.
Judge Papi Masopa has already dismissed Nkala and Ndlovu ‘s claims after they gave confusing and contradicting testimonies.
Their lawyers also failed to prove the alleged assault. Both their statements were read out in court as part of evidence.
Mathibela’s lawyer Portia Phahlane told the court that his client said he was first assaulted by the investigating officer who then told him what he must say when he made his statement.
Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Dlamini, who wrote Mathibela’s statement, took to the stand and explained that as a procedure, he asked Mathibela if he was assaulted, forced or promised something in return for his confession.
He said Mathibela denied being assaulted or threatened.
Phahlane said his client did notify Dlamini about the assault and also mentioned that he did not tell other officers because he was scared but his reports were ignored by Dlamini.
“I did inform the accused that he’s not forced or compelled to make a statement. He said he was not assaulted or threatened in any way. I have no knowledge about his assault,” Dlamini said.
“To me he was calm and at ease throughout the entire time. He appeared as a free person and willing to make a statement.”
Masopa asked Dlamini what would he have done if he had learned that the accused was assaulted.
“I wouldn’t have taken the statement, I would have sent him back with the officers who had brought him and then informed the branch commander,” Dlamini said.
Mathibela’s lawyer also told the court that his client was beaten on the way to Rhodes Park to do the pointing of the scene.
“My client says police stopped somewhere and took him out of the car and they were met by other police wearing berets and they kicked and punched him several times while he was handcuffed at the back.”
Lieutenant Msatshwa Molefe, who drove with Mathibela to Rhodes Park denied his claims.
“We never stopped anywhere on our way to Rhodes Park. We only stopped on the traffic lights and the accused was the one giving directions. While he was in my presence he was never beaten by anyone,” said the officer.
The State also called Frans Thaba a warrant officer at Cleveland police station where Mathibela was detained.
“When booking Mathibela in and out of the cells I didn’t notice any injuries on him and I also never received any complaints from the accused.”
Thaba told the court that they always check inmates every hour and after that make an entry on the occurrence book.
“During my visits to the holding cells, the accused never said anything,” he concluded.
The matter was postponed to December 5, to allow Mathibela to testify concerning his alleged assault.
– African News Agency