Force Khashane case: Phone records could open can of worms

2011-12-05 16:33

The investigating officer in the case of murdered Bona magazine editor Force Khashane will push for the state to further investigate the cellphone records of his widow.

This comes after Judge Kathleen Satchwell today found the two accused guilty of planned and premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act by being in possession of an illegal firearm and bullets.

Evidence heard in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court proved that brothers Sibusiso and Sikhumbuzo Mtshali murdered Khashane on the night of August 12 2009.

While the court was unable to determine who exactly killed Khashane at his home in Orlando East, the state was able to conclusively place the two men at the scene of the crime on the night and time of the murder.

What Satchwell found “very strange and bizarre” was Palesa Khashane’s “obsessive calling of (Sibusiso) before and after the murder”.
 
Sibusiso was a business associate of Palesa who borrowed her car for a few days to go to KwaZulu-Natal but did not bring it back on return from his trip. The car is the same car (a silver-grey Toyota Yaris) which witness and neighbour Maria Mashego saw driving up and down the road around the time of the murder. Mashego took down the registration number of the Yaris and it matched Palesa’s car.

Palesa called Sibusiso up to more than ten times on the night of the murder, which Satchwell said “severely undermined her credibility as a state witness”.

Further, on the day that Palesa took the stand, she failed to tell the court who and why she was “obsessively” calling. She claimed to not remember who she called repeatedly.

Said Satchwell: “Why the cellphone records of Sibusiso and Palesa are relevant and significant in this case is because there was regular and frequent communication between them.

“Who is the first person you call when a tragedy hits? You may not remember the number, but you will definitely remember the person.”

Satchwell was referring to the fact that cellphone records also showed that Palesa had called Sibusiso shortly after the murder took place.

Investigating officer Thomas Maluleke said they had not initially picked up on the importance of the communication between Sibusiso and Palesa because they mainly focused on the month of August.

“At the time of meeting Sibusiso, we didn’t know the importance of his number and we had no records of them until much later but we will be making a request to look further than August and even to as far as 2008. Tomorrow we will also find out if the two murderers are willing to testify against (a suspect).”

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