Cop 'asked to change docket'

2009-06-17 14:19

Cape Town - A constable involved in the arrest last year of former ANC chief whip Toni Yengeni was asked to change statements in the police docket, the Parow Regional Court heard on Wednesday.

The purpose of the alleged request by former Goodwood police station commander Siphiwo Hewana was to protect Yengeni, Constable Charles Japhta testified.

Hewana is on trial before magistrate Elsa van Zyl on three charges - an attempt to defeat the ends of justice, incitement to commit perjury and interfering with the Yengeni investigation.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Because of the charges, Hewana was dismissed as the commander at Goodwood police station.

Japhta was questioned at length by prosecutor Barry van der Berg and defence attorney Greg Duncan.

He said Hewana was seated in a police vehicle a day or two after Yengeni's arrest, when Japhta passed by and Hewana asked him to meet him in Hewana's office, concerning the arrest.

Japhta told the court: "He said he needed to look at the Yengeni docket, and that there were things in the docket that he wanted me to change.

"I was so shocked, not knowing what was expected of me, that I did not ask what had to be changed."

Several calls from a Popcru official

Japhta said he reported the request to his shift commander, a woman captain Adonis, who said Japhta may have misunderstood Hewana, who only wanted to ensure that the docket was in order.

Japhta said he asked Adonis if he could refuse any unlawful request to change the docket, and she said Japhta should meet Hewana as requested, but not be worried as Hewana would not make any unlawful requests.

Japhta said he was nervous, and switched his cellphone onto voice-record and stuck the cellphone in his shirt pocket before entering Hawana's office.

He put his cellphone onto record in order to cover himself in the event of any illegal requests, he explained.

Hewana told him he had received several calls from a Popcru official, who had asked what was the race of the arresting police official (Japhta).

Hewana also said Yengeni's parole conditions had banned him from being out on the streets after 22:00, nor was he permitted to consume liquor, whereas Yengeni had been pulled off the road about midnight.

Japhta alleged that Hewana told him he had instructions from the provincial police commissioner to change statements on the docket relating to the time that Yengeni had been arrested.

Yengeni has since been acquitted on the drunk driving charge.

The trial continues.