Cop denies ‘covering up’

2010-12-27 00:00

A CAMPERDOWN policeman who witnessed an altercation between motorist Jude Ward and provincial traffic officer Edward Mtshali inside the police station on January 18 denied in court last week that he was trying to “cover up” for Mtshali.

Defence advocate Christo van Schalkwyk SC suggested to Warrant Officer Muzi Jerome Mngadi that he “selected options” and “left out and added bits” of evidence favourable to Mtshali because he realised that an assault was perpetrated on Ward in his presence in the police station and that he did nothing to help her.

The state closed its case after Mngadi finished testifying and Van Schalkwyk said he will apply for Ward’s discharge when the case resumes on February 11.

Ward is charged with inconsiderate driving and failing to obey a traffic officer on the day in question.

Mngadi told Camperdown magistrate T.Z. Nkosi that as far as he was concerned “no offence was committed” in the charge office by Ward or Mtshali that day. That’s why he did not note the incident in the occurrence book.

He denied that he saw Mtshali assault Ward, but said she had repeatedly ignored Mtshali’s order to hand him her driver’s licence.

He said Mtshali “pushed” Ward and she fell after she “jumped” at him to “forcefully” take back her cellphone, which Mtshali snatched to stop her taking his photograph.

Mngadi laughed when it was suggested that Ward did not want to photograph Mtshali and held her cellphone with an outstretched arm as she did not have her reading glasses on and could not see the numbers to call her husband.

Asked why he was laughing, he replied: “It is because I could see she was trying to take a photo.”

Asked if it is an offence to take a photograph of a law enforcement officer, Mngadi said it is not, but later said he personally would regard it as an offence if someone tried to take his photo without his consent.

Mngadi testified that Ward entered the police station “in a hurry” saying she needed help. He asked what they could do, but before she replied, Mtshali came in demanding her driver’s licence and she ignored him.

Under cross-examination Mngadi agreed Ward was “hysterical”. Asked why he never said so in his statement, he said he could not write down everything.

Mngadi added he saw no injuries on Ward even though a doctor and another policeman noted bruises on her knees and elbow and bloodstains on her shirt.

Van Schalkwyk suggested to him that when Ward fell down Mtshali got on top of her with his knee and banged her head on the ground resulting in “severe head and neck pain”, which was noted by the doctor.

Mngadi said he “never saw that”.

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