Isaac Sebokuboku Phala, 29, Calvin Tjatjie, 24, and Tshepo Seloane, 24, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, armed robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition when they appeared in court, a Sapa correspondent reported.
They are accused of murdering Madingwana Max Matlou, 43, and robbing him of his Samsung cellphone in Mashishing on August 22, 2010. The cellphone was later sold to Cash Crusaders in Emalahleni. During a trial-within-a-trial on Monday, Phala testified that Constable Ernest Vuma Mgwambi assaulted him with the butt of a firearm on the back of his head during his arrest in Witbank on June 7.
“After I reported the assault to a magistrate, I was sent for a confession. The magistrate did not assist me in opening a case. He only called Mgwambi and told him not to assault me again,” Phala testified. He testified that he sustained a cut on the back of his head and that Mgwambi threatened to assault him further if he did not admit to the crime.
Tjatjie testified that after he was assaulted on June 4, he told a police captain he had been assaulted by Mgwambi. “I told the captain from Leboeng police station that I had been assaulted. I do not know his name. I wanted him to take me to hospital, but he refused,” Tjatjie said.
He testified that he was taken to a doctor on June 22, but that he had already healed by then. “The doctor did not find any injuries on my body. I also did not report to him that I had been assaulted by the police,” he told the court.
“I was afraid, because the same police members who assaulted me were present in the doctor’s surgery. I was afraid they would assault me again if I reported them.” Meanwhile, Seloane testified that he was taken outside Tubatse to the edge of a bridge in the veld where he was severely whipped on his back with a sjambok.
“Pepper spray was used and a plastic tube covered over my head to make me suffocate. It was on June 6, 2011. After they took me back to the police station, I reported to a police officer at the police station,” he said.
“I told the police officer I needed to be taken to a hospital as I needed to see a doctor. The police officer replied he did not interfere in such things. He never helped me lay a charge.” Prosecutor Eric van der Merwe told Phala and Tjatjie that according to the evidence before court, no assault took place.
“There is evidence that no assault took place. I put it to you that you gave directions yourself to the police when doing the pointing out. This was not disputed by your counsel,” Van der Merwe told Tjatjie. The trial continues.