Morne Croeser on trial for roadblock shooting

2013-07-30 00:00

A BID by an unlicensed driver to avoid a roadblock manned by police and soldiers cost a young man his life, the high court at Mtunzini heard yesterday.

On trial for the man’s murder are former Pietermaritzburg dog unit policeman Morne Croeser (35) and SANDF rifleman Paul Jeke (40) of Johannesburg.

The two pleaded not guilty before Judge Jerome Mnguni and an assessor to the murder of Sibekezelo Thembinkosi Ndlovu on June 8, 2010 at Bhambanana, Ingwavuma; to assaulting Mthokozisi Manganyela (22); and to defeating or attempting to obstruct the course of justice by tampering with the murder scene.

The prosecution alleges that they placed objects in Ndlovu’s hand to mislead police investigating the shooting into believing that he had posed a threat, which justified him being shot.

Croeser is charged with instructing Jeke to shoot Ndlovu.

Jeke said in a brief statement handed to court by advocate Styx Madlala on his behalf that he had shot Ndlovu “in self-defence”.

But in his evidence, Manganyela maintained the shooting was unprovoked.

He said Jeke — who was dressed in an SANDF uniform — shot Ndlovu with his rifle as Ndlovu got out of the vehicle when he was ordered to alight.

Manganyela said he was driving his father’s maroon Mazda bakkie that evening, but he didn’t have a driver’s licence.

He and Ndlovu had been on their way to fill up with petrol when they were warned that there was a roadblock ahead.

He turned around because he he did not have a licence.

Soon afterwards, he saw a vehicle approaching “very fast” from behind.

The vehicle flicked its lights and he then indicated to the left, pulled over and stopped. He also switched on the bakkie’s hazard lights.

Manganyela said he heard a voice telling them in English to get out.

Ndlovu alighted first, and Jeke shot him as he did so.

Manganyela then alighted from the bakkie and sat down next to the vehicle.

As he did so, Croeser started to assault him.

“He assaulted me with clenched fists, he kicked me and he hit me with the butt of the firearm and forced me to get under the motor vehicle,” he said.

Manganyela testified that he lost a tooth as a result of being hit on the mouth with a rifle by Croeser.

After he was assaulted, Croeser and Jeke handcuffed him and placed him in a van that had arrived at the scene.

They initially drove to where the roadblock was, but then turned back and returned to the scene of the shooting.

Manganyela alleged Croeser had taken a screwdriver from a toolbox in his father’s bakkie and placed it in Ndlovu’s hand, and also “pressed on him [Ndlovu] with his boot”.

Manganyela was later taken to hospital, where he was treated and discharged.

He could not explain why the doctor who examined him after the alleged assault had not noted a missing tooth or that his mouth and face were swollen as he’d testified. Madlala said the accused denied assaulting him, and Croeser alleges he used only reasonable force to “subdue and arrest” him.

Croeser would deny instructing Jeke to shoot Ndlovu or that he had placed anything in Ndlovu’s hand after the shooting.

Jeke would testify that he’d ordered Ndlovu to drop whatever he had in his hands when he emerged from the vehicle. Instead, Ndlovu lifted his hands and pointed something at him, as a result of which he’d fired a single shot.

Manganyela denied Ndlovu was carrying anything in his hands at the time.

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