Motorist was shot down at close range, court hears

2014-01-20 00:00

THE bullet that killed motorist Sibekezelo Ndlovu during a joint police and SANDF roadblock at Ingwavuma in 2010 most probably entered through the right side of his neck and exited at the back. It was also fired at a range of not more than 40 centimetres away.

This was the opinion expressed by forensic pathologist Dr Steve Naidoo at the high court murder trial of former Pietermaritzburg dog unit policeman Morné Croeser and SANDF soldier Paul Jeke on Friday.

Ndlovu was a passenger in a vehicle that admittedly tried to evade the roadblock on June 8, 2010. Croeser was on border duty in the area at the time.

He and Jeke have both pleaded not guilty to the murder charge in the high court sitting at Mtunzini.

They claim that Jeke acted in self-defence when he fired at Ndlovu with his R4 rifle moments after the victim emerged from the bakkie which they’d succeeded in stopping.

Croeser has also denied allegations that he tampered with the crime scene after the shooting, to make it appear that Ndlovu was armed with a screwdriver. Jeke alleged during his earlier testimony that Ndlovu was holding “something in his hand” which had made him fear for his life.

This caused him to shoot Ndlovu as he advanced towards him, he said.

It later turned out that Ndlovu was merely carrying a USB modulator, which plays music in a car.

The medical evidence given by Naidoo on Friday contradicted earlier testimony by state district surgeon Reuben Naicker, who said he believed the bullet that killed Ndlovu was fired through the back of the neck, and came out on the right side.

Though appearing to waver in his opinion, when he was cross-examined for the second time by the defence on Friday and was shown magnified photographs of the injuries, Naicker subsequently said he thought his first impression was correct.

Naidoo, however, gave reasons for his opinion. He told the court he based his views on photographs that showed “blackening” around the neck of the shirt worn by the victim and a “pattern of soot” surrounding the injury on the right side of the neck.

In reply to questions by state advocate Dorian Paver, Naidoo agreed the soot and blackening of the victim’s shirt were indicative of a close range shot.

He said the muzzle of the gun could not have been more than 40 cm away from the neck when the shot went off, which didn’t fit with defence evidence that Jeke fired from five metres away.

The case has been adjourned to April 14 for closing arguments.

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