Independent Police Investigative Directorate investigator Phumlani Ngcobo, on Tuesday gave accounts of how the April 17 crime was committed. “On the arrival there were police already on the scene with members of the crime intelligence,” he said. A body wrapped in a plastic bag was found in the veld in Carletonville and police discovered cartridges belonging to an R5 riffle. Two other bodies were later found. Ngcobo said the bodies had already decomposed when they were taken to the mortuary. A torso of one of the suspects was missing “so we could only identify with a trouser and socks,” he said.
Ngcobo said the victims were only identified by their families at the mortuary by clothing. He said they asked the families what the person was wearing when they last saw them. However, the court heard that the bodies have not yet been buried because the police were awaiting the DNA test results for positive identification. All the victims were from Duduza, the East Rand. Ngcobo said a R50 payment receipt with a registered number plate of VW Polo driven by a police constable was discovered next to one of the bodies, they were then able to trace the accused.
The four accused were facing charges of three murders, one attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.
Only the version of two of the four accused was heard in court, as the other legal representative(s) were not present. Through his defence Jan van Heerden, accused number one was known to be a police informer in Springs. Van Heerden said his client was not guilty of the charges. In an affidavit read to the court, the accused said: “I deny I shot and killed anybody.” He said accused number three, a 2013 police officer of the year in Duduza, was responsible. He said the whistle-blower, now state witness, was also involved in the murder. Accused number one said he was “too scared to report this matter” as accused number three had threatened to shoot his children should he spill the beans. The accused was in 2010 charged with impersonating a police officer. The defence argued that if released accused one would not disturb public order. He was ready to pay R20 000 bail.
Accused number two was employed as a police constable stationed at the Springs police station. He told the court through his defence Riaan Louw he would be able to pay for a R5000 bail and volunteered for a house arrest. Accused two said being kept in custody would badly impact his self-esteem and image. He said he believed he was innocent and there was no evidence to show that his release would undermine public peace and there was also no indication he would evade trial. He said he had no intention to kill. “(Accused three) was the person who shot the three suspects,” he said. He said the accused used an R5 riffle to commit the crime. Accused two said he also saw the now turned state witness torture the suspect and therefore pleaded not guilty to the charges.
As they were torturing the suspects, one of them died on the scene. “They decided to take the person to hospital,” said Ngcobo. He said they were told the person would not be admitted as he was certified dead. He said the victim was then taken back to the car on a wheelchair. The accused were then seen having a discussion outside the hospital. Accused number two then drove with accused one and the others were seen driving in the opposite direction with the body and two suspects.
Accused two’s suspects were in the boot of a white VW Polo while the other three murder suspects were in the boot of the other vehicle.
Ngcobo told the court accused two was on duty on the day in question. He went to book out his two suspects in Carletonville to cover up the crime. Ngcobo said they drove to the area to cover why he went there as the car had an AV tracker. Ngcobo argued that the accused then conspired to defeat the ends of justice.
The accused had also stopped at the East Rand Dunnottar police station where Ngcobo said they decided “it would be better to silence all these other three”. He said accused two and three were trying to protect their work while one and four and the state witness were not employed by the South African Police Services (SAPS). Ngcobo said there was no evidence of them as registered informers within the SAPS.
He said the body was then dumped about 9km from the police station and accused three shot at the persons while the others held the victims. The one victim, thought to also be dead, survived, tried to walk and was assisted and admitted to hospital on a Sunday.
Ngcobo said there was no case found of the four “murder suspects”.
He argued accused two as a police constable “should have known better on what to do” when a person was certified dead and should have reported the matter to his superiors as he knew the procedure. The bodies were discovered on May 4.
State prosecutor Victor Simelane said all four should be denied bail. The Citizen has the name of the accused but they cannot be named because they are yet to appear before an identity parade. Ngcobo had also opposed the bail application saying the accused were; implicated on the murder, was considering the seriousness of the case, witnesses could be affected, the community would be disgraced on the justice system and the accused could interfere with the investigation as it had not yet been completed. He said the accused could also evade trial considering the seriousness of the case.
Ngcobo was seen falling on the ground for a while during his testimony, what led to a short squabble among the families as allegations of a muthi being used were forwarded.