A defence witness who gave damning testimony during the trial of former intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and his co-accused Mthembeni Mthunzi, was clutching at straws when he failed to explain why his testimony was contrary to audio played in the South Gauteng High Court on Thursday.
Warrant Officer Solomon Mashamaite’s testimony was attacked by Prosecutor Deon Barnard when audio of a consultation between Mashamaite, prosecutors and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) was played in court.
Mashamaite, stationed at the Dawn Park police station on the East Rand, told the court that in October 1998, he received a call about an attempted murder in Windmill Park.
He was the officer who took a statement from Mdluli’s former lover Tshidi Buthelezi’s friend Alice Manana. He said he found Manana bleeding from her upper left breast and holding a cloth to her wound. She claimed she was shot. She could not describe her attackers, but had an idea of who may have been behind the attack.
Mdluli and Mthunzi are on trial for allegedly intimidating, kidnapping and assaulting Buthelezi’s lover Oupa Ramogibe. They have pleaded not guilty.
Mashamaite had already told the court that ten years later, he was subpoenaed by the Hawks to their offices concerning the statement that he had written.
He told the court that the consultation did not end well because there was a woman named Kholeka who had forced him to admit that Mdluli was implicated in Manana’s attack and also threatened to charge him with defeating the ends of justice.
When the audio was played in court, it disputed some of the testimony which was given by Mashamaite. In his initial testimony, he said he was asked if he knew Mdlui. But that alleged conversation was also never heard on the audio.
Barnard asked Mashamaite if he still insisted that all the things he claimed took place during consultation are the truth.
“Yes, it’s the truth, they did happen,” he said.
“When did they happen?” asked Barnard.
Mashamaite responded: “During consultation.”
Barnard asked Mashamaite to slot in the alleged conversions in the sequence of the audio.
Mashamaite continued by adding new information to his initial testimony, but he struggled to answer some of the questions without pausing.
“Please be patient with me, I want to think,” he said.
When he was asked to indicate when did the alleged altercation between him and Kholeka, he said he wasn’t sure but it was during the consultation.
In the audio Mashamaite was heard telling Kholeka that she was taking things personal. He explained that he was saying that because he was already feeling intimidated by her.
“When I said to Kholeka that you take things personal, there were things that Kholeka was saying in isiXhosa, there were things that she was not speaking in English. She was trying to ensure that the others don’t hear what she was saying,” said Mashamaite.
“I don’t know if that part is captured in the record.”
As the cross examination continued, Mashamaite struggled to answer without contradicting himself.
Mdluli had a long-term relationship with Buthelezi dating from his school days. During her relationship with him, she met Ramogibe and they began a relationship and later got married.
Between 1997 and 1999, Mdluli allegedly went to extreme lengths to track down Buthelezi and Ramogibe. Mdluli and Mthunzi allegedly intimidated, kidnapped and assaulted Ramogibe. He was shot dead in 1999.
No one was ever convicted of Ramogibe’s murder. Mdluli has been accused of sabotaging the investigation.
The matter was postponed to Friday.
– African News Agency (ANA)
Ike Motloung, for Mdluli, initially disputed the authenticity of the recording but later agreed that the audio be played believing that it would prove to the court that it was tampered with.
Warrant officer Solomon Mashamaite testified during the trial of Mdluli who was appearing on charges relating to the 1999 kidnapping of the late Oupa Ramogibe, who allegedly had an affair with Mdluli’s lover, Tshidi Buthelezi.
Mdluli and his co-accused Mthembeni Mthunzi face charges of intimidation, kidnapping, assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice.
Mashamaite told the court that he was the officer who went to the scene in October 1997, and took a statement after Alice Manana who was Buthelezi’s friend was shot.
Mdluli was accused of handing down a hit on Manana.
He said after ten years of taking the statement he was subpoenaed by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) to report at their offices in Johannesburg where they questioned him further about the statement he had written.
Mashamaite said prosecutors Deon Barnard, Zaais van Zyl, investigating officer Kobus Roelofse, a black woman called Kholeka and other people were in the meeting. In his testimony on Wednesday, he said he was questioned if he knew Mdluli.
“Someone in the group asked me if I know Richard and I asked which Richard, someone said the General. I explained that I know him through work and he’s my senior,” he said at the time.
This alleged conversion was not heard in the audio.
Mashamaite had also claimed that he got into an altercation with Kholeka who threatened him of charging him with defeating the ends of justice.
In his testimony he said Kholeka accused him of protecting Mdluli.
“There was a black lady who said I’m lying and I’m hiding something. We started arguing and I asked her if she had seen Richard Mdluli’s name on the statement and that’s when she told me she will charge me with defeating the ends of justice,” he said.
“I was angry to the point where I began to cry. I said to her,because of such questioning that Will be the the reason that I’m killed and you find my head in one place and my body in another place, because you want me to say certain things.”
Also this portion was never heard on the electronic record.
After the recording was played, Barnard asked if the recording was a fair reflection of what had transpired during consultation.
“I’m not satisfied,” Mashamaite responded.
“There are certain things which were spoken on that day but they are not on the record, again I didn’t know I was recorded.”
Barnard asked Mashamaite if he doesn’t recall whether a microphone was placed in front of him during the consultation.
“It is possible that it was there, but I can not recall but something like this one, I would have remembered,” pointing at the microphone in front of him.
The State also questioned him when did the altercation which he claims occurred during consultation.
He could not give a clear explanation as to why some parts of his testimony was not on the record.
“I’m not saying that there were portions but with due respect, there are things which were said but can not be heard on the record.”
Motloung argued that the clicking sounds which could be heard on the audio suggest that the recording might have been tampered with.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng ordered that the audio should be played again and if the defence should pick up any vacuum in the audio , it would be noted.
The trial continues.
– African News Agency (ANA)