Police compromise witness’ safety

2017-07-26 06:03
The safety of a victim and crime witness, Esther Leacwe (right), was questioned after the Hartswater police reportedly took murder suspects to her home in broad daylight to identify them. While Leacwe is reliving the incident in which her friend, Paulina Noganyane, was murdered, her sister, Segametsi, provides moral support.Photo: Boipelo Mere

The safety of a victim and crime witness, Esther Leacwe (right), was questioned after the Hartswater police reportedly took murder suspects to her home in broad daylight to identify them. While Leacwe is reliving the incident in which her friend, Paulina Noganyane, was murdered, her sister, Segametsi, provides moral support.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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The safety of a witness was questioned after the Hartswater police reportedly took murder suspects to her home to identify them.

Esther Leacwe (34) witnessed the murder of her friend early on Sunday morning, 16 July, and now fears for her own life.

Leacwe raised concerns regarding the manner in which the identity parade was conducted by the Harts-water Police following the murder.

Although the two suspects were arrested on the morning of the murder, she doubts whether justice will be served.

She is still traumatised by the events of the fateful morning, but regards herself as lucky to be alive after managing to fight off the two suspects, armed with knives, who planned to rob and rape her.

The two friends were allegedly walking home from a nearby tavern in Bonita Park on the Sunday morning when they were confronted by the two suspects.

Paulina Nonyane’s body, with several stab wounds, was discovered about 100 m from where Leacwe last saw her.

Two male suspects were arrested.

They appeared in the Hartswater Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 18 July.

The cases were separated, with one suspect facing a charge of murder, while the other is facing charges of attempted rape and assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm.

Further details, including the names of the suspects, could not be revealed by the court, as the Hartswater police is in possession of the docket.

According to the court, it makes sense that the two cases be separated given the different roles that the suspects played.

Leacwe is a victim of attempted rape and a witness to the murder.

According to Leacwe, she was still reeling from the shock and the loss of her friend when police showed up at her home with the two suspects.

“I just saw the police van parked outside and they asked me to accompany them to the van. The two suspects were inside. I froze at the sight of them and our eyes met,” she said.

“That is when it all came back. I remembered how I realised that the one had killed my friend while I was fighting the other one off.

“I feel like my right to a fair trial is already being trampled on and that my safety is now compromised,” she said.

“How can we say that the law protects the victims of crime or witnesses when they bring murder suspects to the victim’s house? What will happen if one or both of them are granted bail? Where does that leave me?

Am I expected to lead a normal life, meet them and greet them gracefully in the streets.”Even if they stay behind bars, they will be granted their freedom at the end of the day.”

“I really have my doubts that this case will see the end of the day”

After taking the suspects to Lea-cwe’s house, the police drove to the deceased’s house to show them to the bereaved family.

The incident is reported to havesparked outrage as the community witnessed this.

The deceased’s husband allegedly attempted to storm the suspects, who were being protected by the police.

Members of the community stormed the police vehicle and demanded that the suspects be handed over to them to deal with.

A family friend said that the police should have put the safety of the victim first and should not have put the family in such a position.

“The suspects and the victim were not even supposed to meet. The police were just plain ignorant,” he said.

“According to my knowledge, victims and witnesses are supposed to be taken to the police station to point out the suspects from behind a double-sided mirror – so that the suspects cannot see them.”them out from behind some kind of a mirror where the suspect does not see her.

The family friend believes police negligence is the reason why many cases end up unsolved.

  • By the time Express Northern Cape went to print, the police had not yet responded to the enquiry as to why these actions were taken by the officers.

The enquiry, sent on Thursday (20/07), also included a request for clarity on the procedures that need to be followed during an identity parade.

By Monday around 16:00 said she had not yest received the response from the relevant office and promised to respond by 09:00 on Tuesday.

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