Police accused of cooking ANC case

2012-05-12 15:28

The former mayor of Rustenburg and his bodyguard have accused the police of manufacturing evidence and bowing to political pressure in a sensational murder trial that has rocked the North West.

Matthews Wolmarans – now speaker of the Rustenburg Local Municipality – and Enoch Matshaba, a former uMkhonto we Sizwe soldier, are accused of assassinating ANC councillor Moss Phakoe in his driveway in March 2009.

Wolmarans is accused of planning the murder and providing Matshaba with a gun with which to eliminate Phakoe.

A day before he was killed, Phakoe handed over a dossier of corruption allegations against Wolmarans and others to the late cooperative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka.

This was after Phakoe and fellow councillor Alfred Motsi tried to convince a string of senior ANC leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, to investigate fraud and corruption allegations in the municipality.

This week in the North West High Court sitting in Rustenburg, Wolmarans and Matshaba denied any culpability for Phakoe’s death.

Outside court a small group of ANC supporters sang and danced in support of Wolmarans, with a huge banner portraying his face and the slogan “Hands off our Wollie”.

In court, prosecutor Hosea Molefe accused Matshaba of being a “small fish” willing to take the fall for “much bigger fish”.

The state’s case hinges on three crucial pieces of evidence: the testimony of Freddy Mashele – a man who claimed to have witnessed Matshaba leaving Phakoe’s house with a gun after the shooting; a confession made by Matshaba about his role in the murder, and a confession Wolmarans allegedly made to a fellow inmate at the police office where he was kept.

Matshaba later retracted his statement and Wolmarans denied confessing to the murder.

Mashele came forward more than two years after Phakoe’s death. He told the court he was ill and scared to come forward with the vital piece of evidence.

But Matshaba’s advocate Sita Kolbe SC rubbished his evidence in her closing arguments before Judge Ronald Hendricks, questioning why he wasn’t ill at the time of the murder and how he could remember Matshaba’s features “despite an intervening debilitating illness”.

Kolbe also questioned Mashele’s links to a friend of one of the policemen investigating the case, suggesting he may have been a “witness of convenience”.

She argued that from the outset of the case, “political supporters of Phakoe, who were the political opponents of Wolmarans, suspected Wolmarans of having been involved in his death”.

Kolbe said the appointment of a national police task team to investigate “what could possibly have been an ordinary driveway robbery” was indicative of the “political influence in the investigation”.

Advocate Tiny Seboko, representing Wolmarans, also said the police did not come to court with “clean hands” and that the investigation was a “cover-up...of the true state of affairs”.

Molefe argued the state had done enough to secure a conviction. Judgment was reserved for July 16.

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