Cop admits errors in Tibbetts case

2015-03-18 14:38
(File: Sapa)

(File: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - A police officer who took a witness statement in the case of the man accused of killing Westbury toddler Luke Tibbetts admitted that he may not have followed procedure, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Deon van Wyk established that Constable Julius Rakubu had not told a witness that his evidence could be used in court before taking his statement.

"You never mentioned that you gave him this long explanation so that he understands the consequences of making this statement," Van Wyk said.

"Yes sir, I agree with you that it's possible that I may have made a mistake," Rabuku said.

Lindray Khakhu, 22, is on trial for two murders, including that of 3-year-old Tibbetts, five counts of attempted murder, 10 of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and one of pointing a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty to all 18 charges.

Tibbetts was shot in the head in Steytler Street, Westbury, Johannesburg, on 2 August last year while sitting on his mother's lap in a car, as Khakhu allegedly shot at Keenan Mokwena who was in another car.

Mokwena was wounded. Tibbetts died in hospital six days later.

Last week on Thursday, Khakhu's lawyer Sog van Eck told the court that police officers did not follow procedure when taking down witness statements.

"The statements were taken wrongly and not read back [to the witnesses]," he said at the time.

He wanted permission to ask the investigating officer at the Sophiatown police station to tell the court which officers had taken the witnesses' statements.

"In the interest of justice this must be clarified," Van Eck said.

At least four witnesses had pointed out errors in their statements and had testified that these were not read back to them before they signed them.

Rakubu denied that he had not read the statement back to witness Basil Kuiken before asking him to sign it.

Use of language

Kuiken was allegedly driving the car in which Mokwena was travelling.

"Would you tell a person to just sign this document and go without reading it?" Van Eck asked him.

"No, I'd never do that," said Rakubu.

"Kuiken testified that he was only asked to sign the statement, that it wasn't read back to him and he wasn't asked to read it," said Van Eck.

"He's not telling the truth," Rakubu said.

Van Wyk also pointed out that in the case of both Rakubu and Constable Pumlani Mthethwa, who testified earlier, they had been taking statements in a language other than their mother tongue and this might have led to misunderstandings.

Mthethwa admitted that he may have made mistakes writing in English.

"I'm Zulu... somewhere I might use singular instead of plural," he conceded.

Van Wyk pointed out that when Mthethwa had taken a statement from witness Ronald Williams, he had written, "I heard a several gun shot," which made the statement unclear.

During the proceedings Khakhu, wearing a black Nike jacket with red trim, sat chewing gum in the dock.

During the tea break he spoke to his family sitting in the public gallery, and played with his 4-month-old baby boy.

Read more on:    police  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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