‘I was ready for a gunfight’ - Roadblock: Soldier ‘felt bad’ when he realised victim was unarmed

2013-08-07 00:00

SANDF rifleman Paul Jeke said he felt bad when he realised that a man he had just shot was not carrying a weapon.

Instead, he discovered that the man had a “modulator” — an instrument that plugs into a car lighter and plays music — in his hand.

Jeke was giving evidence in his defence at the trial where he and ex-Pietermaritzburg police dog unit member, Morné Croeser are charged with the murder of Sibekezelo Ndlovu at Ingwavuma on June 8, 2010.

Judge Jerome Mnguni and his assessor in the Mtunzini high court have heard evidence that Ndlovu was a passenger in a red bakkie driven by Mthokozisi Manganyela that had evaded a roadblock manned by the SANDF and SAPS.

Manganyela testified that he’d turned back after being told about the roadblock because he didn’t have a driver’s licence.

Jeke told the court yesterday that while he and Croeser were in pursuit of the bakkie in Croeser’s police van it came to mind that when people fled roadblocks it usually ended in an exchange of gunfire.

When they’d alighted he was “ready for a gunfight”.

Jeke said they chased the bakkie “for about a kilometre” before Croeser fired three warning shots into the road with his pistol. The bakkie then pulled over and stopped.

Jeke said when he alighted he cocked his R4 rifle. He went to the passenger side.

Croeser shouted at the occupants to get out. “ I saw this person coming out … I shouted at him to raise his hands. He raised only his right hand and he was holding something in his hand. I then shot because I didn’t know what he was carrying,” he said.

He added that there was “no time for negotiation”.

He said he thought Ndlovu might “throw a bomb” at him or shoot him with a firearm.

Jeke denied that he had fired in response to being told by Croeser to “shoot”— as the state alleges — saying soldiers didn’t obey orders from the police.

Asked by state advocate Dorian Paver if Croeser also realised after the shooting that an innocent man had been killed, Jeke said only Croeser could answer that. “I explained to him what happened because he didn’t see the shooting, but I didn’t tell him what was in my mind,” said Jeke.

Paver suggested to Jeke in cross examination that he had shot Ndlovu while his “adrenaline was pumping” and in response to Croeser’s shout that he should shoot as testified to by witnesses. Afterwards Croeser tampered with the scene to cover up the fact that an innocent, unarmed man had been killed.

Jeke said he “disagreed”.

He told the court it was “painful” for him to realise he had shot a man who posed no threat. However, he repeatedly said he had thought he was in danger.

He said it didn’t occur to him to seek out Ndlovu’s family to pay his respects to them.

Jeke also insisted that Ndlovu was facing him when he shot him in his neck.

Paver said medical evidence was led that the bullet entered the back of the neck and exited in the front of the neck.

The case is proceeding.

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