I left Reiger Park toddler near soccer field - accused

2015-05-14 20:36
Nathaniel Mpoku hides his face in court. (Adam Wakefiled, News24)

Nathaniel Mpoku hides his face in court. (Adam Wakefiled, News24)

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Johannesburg - The man accused of kidnapping and murdering toddler Cuburne van Wyk gave him three biscuits and left him by himself on the day the boy disappeared, a Johannesburg court heard on Thursday.

Nathaniel Katlego Mpoku, also known as "Chicken", is accused of killing Cuburne in an informal settlement in Reiger Park, Ekurhuleni, in August last year. The three-year-old disappeared on August 6 while playing outside with his siblings.

His body was discovered by a passer-by at a mine dump in Reiger Park three days later.

Mpoku, led in his evidence by his lawyer Lumka Qoqo, from Legal Aid, told the South Gauteng High Court, sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court, he encountered Cuburne on the day the toddler disappeared.

This happened by the soccer field where Cuburne was last seen.

Mpoku stood during his testimony, with his hands behind his back, and looked at the ground when not speaking. His family and Cuburne's father looked on as he spoke to the court.

"I do confirm that was the day [August 6], maybe 13:30," he said through a translator.

"I arrived at that place [the soccer field] and on my arrival on my right side there were coloured people sitting there with a child, which has been said, the child has now passed away."

Mpoku said he then went to the other side of the field by some post boxes. He was eating a packet of biscuits at the time.

Judge George Maluleke asked whether he knew the coloured people he saw, and Mpoku replied that he recognised some of them, who were children, by sight.

Asked by Qoqo whether he saw the teenager at the field who testified on Monday, Mpoku said he did not. The teenager on Monday told the court he saw Mpoku at the soccer field around 16:30.

Mpoku said "this coloured boy" then stood up and approached him, apparently wanting a biscuit. Mpoku did not speak to the boy, believed to be Cuburne, who said to him "awe".

He said while walking down the road, he noticed the child following him.

"Then I said to child that he must go back."

Mpoku said it appeared the boy was concentrating on his packet of biscuits.

"I took two biscuits out [gave them to him] and told the boy to go back. At that stage there were other children playing with tins. I just said go."

Evidence circumstantial

After leaving Cuburne in the street near the post boxes, Mpoku said he went to nearby Elsburg, then Alberton.

Prior to Mpoku's testimony, Qoqo launched an application for her client to be discharged given the State's case was based on circumstantial evidence.

"In the case before the honourable court, when one considers the evidence of forensics before the court, the accused [Mpoku] has been totally excluded on that evidence. The DNA was taken from the scene of the crime and in doing so, there is no DNA that could be compared," she said.

Testimony given to the court placed Mpoku at the soccer field around 16:30, while other testimony placed Mpoku near a mine-dump at 16:45, 4km away. It was unlikely that Mpoku travelled that distance within 15 minutes.

The application was opposed by prosecutor Annemarie Smith, who said: "In the present case there is direct evidence the accused was the last person seen leaving the soccer field with the deceased [Cuburne] and this evidence was not disputed by the accused [Mpoku]."

Maluleke denied Qoqo's application, and with Smith having just begun her cross examination of Mpoku, postponed the matter to Friday.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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