Cops deny assaulting Rhodes Park rape, murder accused

2016-11-25 20:35
Rhodes Park accused in court (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

Rhodes Park accused in court (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

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Johannesburg - Four police officers each told the High Court sitting Palm Ridge on Friday that they were not aware of any assault committed by other officers against one of the men accused of raping a woman and murdering two men in Rhodes Park last year.

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Dlamini told the court that on December 20, 2015, he had received a call from officer Moses Mbotho, who was a branch commander at the Cleveland police station at the time, to take down a confession from a suspect involved in a double murder and rape case.

He was not given more details, except the suspect's name, Dlamini said.

A few hours later, Mduduzi Lawrence Mathibela was brought to Dlamini, who was with the Germiston Organised Crime unit, to take the confession.

According to Dlamini, all went according to standard procedure.

Mathibela, 32, and his co-accused Admore Ndlovu, 23, and Thabo Nkala, 25, were charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape and murder. They have pleaded not guilty.

Husbands drowned

The trio was allegedly part of a 12-man gang that attacked two couples who had gone to the park that Saturday evening after a church service. The couples were reportedly forced to lie on the ground. A knife was used to cut off the underwear of both women before they were raped.

Their husbands, Zukisa Kela and Sizwe Tyeke, were forced to strip and ordered into the lake, where they drowned.

The gang allegedly stole their clothes, jewellery and cellphones. Police divers found the bodies.

On Friday, Dlamini told the court that after Mathibela arrived he had read him his rights and asked him questions about whether he had been threatened or physically assaulted and coerced into making his confession, to which Mathibela reportedly said no.

Dlamini told the court that during this time Mathibela appeared sober minded, calm and relaxed.

The court heard how Dlamini had read the statement back to Mathibela after he had taken it down to check if Mathibela was happy with what had been written. Mathibela said "yes" and proceeded to sign the document and put a fingerprint on it.

'I did not say that'

During cross-examination Portia Phahlane, for Mathibela, told Dlamini that her client had informed her that he had told Dlamini that he was threatened into making the confession and did it out of fear.

The person who had allegedly threatened her client was investigating officer Bruce van der Schyff, Phahlane said.

"This is news to me," Dlamini responded.

Mathibela further alleged that after telling Dlamini this, Dlamini responded by saying if he did not make a confession he would send him back to Van der Schyff to be assaulted.

"I did not say that, he did not report any assault to me," Dlamini said.

Mathibela further claimed that he had been unduly influenced into making a confession, that his rights were never read out to him, and that what was contained in the confession was second-hand information relayed to him by Van der Schyff and other officers prior to his meeting with Dlamini.

"He says when he told you that, you were impatient with him and you told him to continue [with the confession," Phahlane said.

Suspect was 'calm, relaxed'

Dlamini maintained that he had followed procedure and read Mathibela his rights, that he was never told about any undue influence and said he was patient throughout the process, which lasted a few hours.

Dlamini maintained that Mathibela was calm, relaxed, spoke freely and "looked normal" during that entire time.

In a separate incident four days later, Mathibela claimed that on the way to pointing out the scene with the officers he was assaulted by unknown, uniformed officers sporting red berets.

Two officers who were tasked with accompanying Mathibela to the scene were brought to court to provide clarity on Mathibela's claim.

Officers Msatshwa Molefe and Mnikeni Nyarashe told the court that they had been travelling with Mathibela in a police bakkie on December 24 after being notified hours earlier that the suspect wanted to point the scene out to police.

Both officers said Mathibela was giving directions.

Both men said they did not make any stops until they arrived at Rhodes Park in Kensington, east of Johannesburg.

On Friday, Phahlane put it to the officers that her client was physically assaulted before they got to the park.

'Co-operative'

"Along the way, he was beaten by cops wearing uniform and red berets. He was kicked on his body while he was handcuffed," Phahlane said.

Molefe told the court that no such incident occurred and later, during his own cross-examination, Nyarashe told the court that Mathibela was not handcuffed as he had to use his hands to point things out at the scene to the officers. Only his feet were chained, the court heard.

Both officers described Mathibela's attitude and demeanour on the day as being relaxed and "free".

The final witness of the day, officer Frans Thaba, who was based at the Cleveland police station where Mathibela was being held, told the court that he signed Mathibela out on the morning of December 24 when he went to point the scene out. He had also signed him back in when he returned later that afternoon.

Thaba told the court that there was nothing untoward about Mathibela's behaviour and described him as "co-operative". He also did not notice any injuries on Mathibela, he said.

"He never told me of any injuries or any complaints."

Court was adjourned to December 5. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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