‘I did not see Jeke shoot’

2013-08-06 00:00

FORMER Pietermaritzburg dog unit policeman Morne Croeser (34) vigorously denied any wrongdoing yesterday when he took the witness stand in connection with the roadside shooting of Sibekezelo Ndlovu in the Ingwavuma area in June 2010.

At the time Croeser was performing border duties.

Croeser told the Mtunzini high court yesterday he did not see his SANDF partner Paul Jeke shoot the victim with his R4 rifle, because his view was blocked by his police van.

When Croeser heard the shot, his attention was focused on the driver of the maroon bakkie that had tried to evade their roadblock, he said.

Croeser testified that he was “stressed” and anxious to find out who fired the shot and why.

He shouted to Jeke to ask if he was “okay” and Jeke replied that he was.

Croeser said he later saw Ndlovu lying on his back with a “huge gap in his neck”, and “some sort of black USB music player thing” in his hand.

Jeke later told him that he’d felt his life was in danger and that was why he fired.

Croeser said earlier when he gave the order, the bakkie driver (Mthokozisi Manganyela) had come out of the bakkie and sat next to it on his haunches with his hands raised in an attitude of surrender. He did not see Ndlovu, the passenger, emerge, he said.

Croeser testified that Manganyela did not obey his order to lie down flat. Instead he had to “rush” over, “grab him off his haunches and pin him down” while handcuffing him and arresting him.

He said it was “possible” he might have suffered “some scratches but not bruises” during this process.

He denied allegations by Manganyela that he had assaulted him by kicking him and also hitting him with the butt of his firearm.

He said he did not know why two other witnesses had also alleged that he’d assaulted Manganyela.

Croeser strongly denied that he had deliberately tried to protect Jeke by “throwing” a screwdriver down at the scene of the shooting near Ndlovu’s hand, because he’d realised that he was not armed and that there would be an investigation into the shooting.

“I just threw the screwdriver down … I didn’t aim it. It wasn’t part of the scene and that is why I never mentioned it in my statement,” said Croeser in reply to questions by state advocate Dorian Paver.

Croeser admitted he removed the screwdriver from a toolbox in the bakkie.

He said he did so while searching for some evidence as to why the occupants had evaded the roadblock and fled when he pursued them with flashing lights and blue lights. He said the bakkie only came to a stop after he had fired three warning shots.

He agreed he couldn’t find anything in the bakkie that was illegal.

Croeser said he took the screwdriver out to remove a rear light cover, which conceals a disc on which there is information from which it was possible to check if the bakkie was stolen or not. Afterwards he’d simply “thrown it [the screwdriver] away without thinking”.

Croeser and Jeke have pleaded not guilty before Judge Jerome Mnguni and an assessor to the murder of Ndlovu, assaulting Manganyela (22) and defeating or attempting to defeat the course of justice by interfering with the crime scene.

Under cross examination Croeser told the court he’d arrested Manganyela “for fleeing the roadblock”, but agreed that he was never charged.

Croeser said it “eventually came out” that Manganyela didn’t have a driver’s licence and he was charged for that.

The case is proceeding.

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