Home affairs man implicated in murder

2012-03-12 22:43
Pretoria - A former Umkhonto we Sizwe cadre and civil servant walked away as his daughter and her friend lay critically wounded, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

This was the testimony of Jabu Makhopa, a neighbour of home affairs law enforcement former analyst Donald Makhura, 45, in his murder trial.

Makhura has pleaded not guilty of murdering his daughter Thapelo, 24, and her male friend Raiseba Martin Ndhlela in front of his estranged wife Miriam's house in Mamelodi West on December 4, 2009.

Thapelo and Ndhlela were sitting in a car in front of the house when several shots were fired at them. Thapelo, who was a mechanical engineer at Toyota, died at the scene.

According to police evidence, Ndhlela had survived being shot in the head and was taken to hospital, but died later that night.

Makhura also pleaded not guilty to the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He gave no explanation of his plea.

Testifying for the State, Makhopa told the court he was watching television at about 22:00 when he heard two gunshots. He turned down the volume on his television and heard a third shot.

When he went to investigate, he heard a girl saying "papa", then he heard two more shots.

"I saw the accused walking away from the driver's side of the vehicle. There was no-one else in the street," Makhopa testified.

"He was walking towards my side, but he changed direction either because he saw the light or he saw me."

Makhopa said he was certain he saw Makhura. He had known Makhura for almost four years and spoke to him almost every day, he testified.

Defence counsel Christo Bruwer put it to him that he had "assumed" that the person he saw that night was Makhura as he was coming from the direction of his estranged wife's house.

Bruwer put it to him that he would not have been able to see the person properly because it was dark and raining that night and the person was carrying a large umbrella.

"I'm not assuming. I saw his face. I saw him clearly," Makhopa replied.

He was testifying in open court after Judge Mahomed Ismail dismissed an application for him to testify from another room via closed-circuit television.

The investigating officer had told the court Makhopa had told him he was scared to testify in open court because "he knows the accused and knows how he is when he's angry".

He said Makhopa was afraid of Makhura and feared revenge against him and his family if he testified.

Ismail said there was no evidence that Makhura, who has been in custody since 2009, had ever threatened or intimidated Makhopa and his fear appeared to be in his mind.

The judge said the court could not simply yield to the mere comfort of a witness, because most witnesses found courts intimidating and would prefer not to testify in open court.

The trial continues.

- SAPA
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