Badul says Bhengu’s tape is not authentic

2013-06-06 00:00

THE trial of former police director Hariram Badul was told yesterday about the clandestine recording of a conversation between the former station commander and an employee who turned state witness in the case.

Defence advocate Christo van Schalkwyk SC, who represents Badul, told Judge Rashid Vahed and assessors they are challenging the authenticity of the recording obtained by Msingaphansi France Bhengu at Badul’s home on November 18, 2009.

The court will give a ruling after hearing evidence on whether or not the contents of the recording will be admitted as evidence in the trial.

Investigating officer in the case, Colonel Lucky Mchunu, disputed under cross examination that the recording was tampered with in any way, and also said the recording was “not intended as a trap”.

“We didn’t know what the subject matter would be even though we had our own suspicions,” he said.

He said the aim of monitoring the conversation had been to get information for investigative purposes.

“I did know that something relating to the investigation might crop up,” he said.

Mchunu testified that when Bhengu got back from the meeting with Badul he’d mentioned that there had been “some discussion about TVs” and also said it was discussed that “Thami Shezi had to disappear so that investigators could not get to him”.

Bhengu further stated that Badul had expressed concern over the pending investigation and said “something about Stanley not having a backbone”.

Stanley Naidoo, a policeman at Mountain Rise, is a key state witness in the trial.

Mchunu said he’d downloaded the recording of Bhengu’s discussion with Badul onto his laptop. He thereafter stored the recording device — with the original recording still on it — in a safe.

The reason it was not booked into the exhibits register at Loop Street police station was due to the sensitivity of the investigation and because it would have to be stated in the register who the subject of the recording was.

“It was felt that Badul being a popular and influential person, this could have consequences and perhaps the recording could be lost,” he said.

He said he had only booked the recording device into the register on December 4 — the day that was earmarked for the arrests of the suspects. He’d immediately taken it out again and replaced it in the safe.

Mchunu also said he had personally bagged and sealed the recording device on December 11, 2009, and handed it to Superintendent Bala Naidoo to be sent to the forensic laboratory in Pretoria.

Mchunu agreed under cross examination that Badul was admitted to hospital the day after the recording was made, on November 19, 2009, but said he had not known at the time of the recording that Badul was gravely ill.

He also denied he’d sent Bhengu to see Badul in hospital or told him to try and make a further recording.

The case is proceeding.

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