Papers 'missing' in taxi war trial

2013-03-26 19:19

Nelspruit - Certain documents were missing in the trial of three taxi bosses over a war between Mpumalanga and Gauteng taxi operators in the 1990s, a Nelspruit court heard on Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Hendrik Potgieter told the Nelspruit circuit of the North Gauteng High Court the documents in the State's case should be found, as they were important.

"The accused will suffer if they do not have an opportunity to have these documents; they are very important to the State's case as well."

Potgieter represents Samuel "Vuyo" Manganye, 59, Calvin Lubisi, 47, and Mfanufikile "Mamelodi" Mbonani, 33.

He said the documents were part of the identification of the accused and pointing out of the crime scenes done by State witness, Michael Grey.

Manganye is former president of the Federated Local and Long Distance Taxi Association (Felldta) while Lubisi is chairman of the Successful United Taxi Association (Suta), which was affiliated to Felldta and operated between Mbombela, Hazyview and Bushbuckridge. Mbonani was part of the Suta management and oversaw patrol of routes.

The taxi war was between Felldta and the SA Local and Long Distance Taxi Association (Salldta) and its smaller affiliates.

Manganye, Lubisi and Mbonani have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges that include three counts of murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, illegal possession of 9mm pistols and revolvers, illegal possession of AK-47 rifles and ammunition and pointing of a firearm.

Investigation officer Colonel Samuel Mahlangu was called to the stand to explain the missing documents.

"Grey made more than one pointing out to the crime scenes. After obtaining the statements, there was a time when I was forced to appoint other higher ranking officers for continuation.

After I made a follow-up, I discovered the forms were handed to another officer who was involved in a car accident," Mahlangu testified.

"He has passed on and the car he was driving got burnt during the accident. I then contacted the area office to find out if there were copies of forms made, only to find out there was none."

Potgieter told Mahlangu it was impossible for an investigating officer not to know what actually happened to the documents.

"Surely you should have made the copies. Do you have proof the forms were given to the captain who was involved in an accident?" Potgieter asked.

Mahlangu told the court he would follow up.

"I only spoke to him and no proof was forwarded to me. I'll try to make an inquiry to see if they can be available or have been removed in an illegal manner or destroyed," he said.

"I also do not remember which day the pointing out was done, but it took a week."

Potgieter said if the photos of the pointing out were taken with a digital camera, the photos could be found and reprinted.

Prosecutor Eric van der Merwe said the witness, Grey, would have to be called back to court, as the State did not have on record what he said or pointed out as recorded in the missing documents during that week-long process.

"The State witness did a number of pointing outs at many crime scenes including places where [Abenee] Mokoena and [Sifiso] Ndlovu were murdered," said Van der Merwe.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    mbombela

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