Underberg farmer’s murder suspect made a break for it

2014-06-03 00:00

ONE of those arrested for the murder and robbery of Underberg farmer Dan Knight last October, tried to escape from police by butting his head against the passenger window of a double-cab bakkie, breaking it.

This evidence has been given by policemen testifying in a “trial within a trial” in the Pietermaritzburg high court, where two of the men charged with Knight’s murder are disputing the validity of confessions they made.

Tsepiso Ramonyane (20) and Bonginkosi Nyawose (33) of Bulwer, allege that they were assaulted by police who arrested them and were later made to sign confessions without knowing the contents of the documents.

A man who turned state witness in the case, Thabo Dlamini, also testified that he was assaulted following his arrest.

One of the arresting officers who testified yesterday — Constable Themba Ndlovu from Himeville — said he was seated in the front of the bakkie transporting Nyawose to Bulwer when he heard the window break behind him.

Turning, he saw Nyawose’s head come through the window. Another policeman grabbed Nyawose and they stopped the vehicle.

Ndlovu said he went around and re-entered the vehicle on Nyawose’s side to block him from trying to escape again. He said Nyawose’s hands were still handcuffed behind his back when he broke the window.

He did not see if he was injured.

In spite of trying to escape, Nyawose subsequently went on to point out the place where one of the vehicles stolen during the hold-up at Knight’s farm was left.

Ndlovu denied that Nyawose and his co-accused were assaulted by the police. He said both Nyawose and Ramonyane had to be “pressed down” on the ground when they were being handcuffed at the time of their arrests because they were “aggressive”.

Captain V. Xaba of Himeville, who conducted the pointing-out exercise, admitted in reply to questions from Judge Jerome Mnguni that he’d failed to inform Nyawose of his constitutional rights and the implications of the pointing out before proceeding with it.

“I would say I made a mistake,” he said, prompting the judge to respond: “A costly mistake”.

Xaba said he had not seen Nyawose try to escape earlier, but was told about the escape bid after he noticed the broken window.

Xaba said despite the attempted escape, his impression of Nyawose when he pointed out the stolen vehicle was that he was being co-operative.

The case is proceeding.

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