Accused say confession was forced

2013-09-11 21:32

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Mbombela - Three men accused of shooting dead an Mpumalanga mineworker three years ago were tortured into confessing to the crime, the Nelspruit Circuit of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

Isaac Sebokuboku Phala, 29, Calvin Tjatji, 24, and Tshepo Seloane, 24, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, armed robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition when they appeared in court, a Sapa correspondent reported.

They are accused of murdering Madingwana Max Matlou, 43, and robbing him of his Samsung cellphone in Mashishing on 22 August 2010. The cellphone was later sold to Cash Crusaders in Emalahleni.

During a trial-within-a-trial on Wednesday, Justice Mogotsi, for Phala, told the court his client would testify that Constable Ernest Vuma Mgwambi, Warrant Officer Johannes Thomas Motau and two captains forced him to make a confession.

"My client will testify that his head was covered with a plastic tube and pepper spray was used to make him suffocate. He said they forced him to produce the murder weapon," Mogotsi said.

He said Phala was charged only once his wounds had healed.

King William Manzini, for Tjatji, told the court his client would also testify he was assaulted and forced to do a pointing out at the crime scene.

"My client said his constitutional rights were not read to him. On 4 June 2011, he was assaulted and was only taken to a doctor for a check up three weeks after the beating."

Madala Simpson Mulaudzi, for Seloane, said his client was fetched from Tubatse police station and was taken to the Leboeng police station on 6 June 2011.

"My client said he was taken to a bridge at the exit of Tubatse. He was then taken to a veld, where he was handcuffed with his hands in the back and on his legs."

"After a plastic tube was put over his head, they used pepper spray to make him suffocate. He will testify that he was sjambokked severely on his back and sustained serious injuries."

Seloane was taken to Leboeng police station where he was introduced to Tjatji, said Mulaudzi.

"He will testify he was told to go to a magistrate and make a confession... He will also testify that he was told the injuries were inflicted by his parents when they beat him up."

"He said he was told by Mgwambi that if he reported the assault, he would shoot him dead.

"He said when he went to the magistrate he reported he had been assaulted. That was when the magistrate cancelled the interview. He claimed he was only taken to a doctor on 9 June."

Crime scene

The defence lawyers said their clients would testify that Mgwambi drove them to the crime scene and asked them to return with other police officers to do the pointing out.

When Mgwambi took the stand, he testified that he was the investigating officer in the case and that no assault had taken place.

"No assault took place against the three suspects. The reason why we drove to the crime scene is that it is the only road from point A to point B. There is no alternative road."

Motau, who also took the stand, denied that the three men were assaulted or forced to make confession.

"I was with the investigation officer, Constable Mgwambi, during the entire investigation. All the suspects co-operated with police and they voluntarily chose to make the statements."

Judge Mmonoa Teffo postponed the trial to Thursday.

Read more on:    police  |  mbombela  |  police brutality

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