I made a mistake implicating officer in Macia case - witness

2015-07-30 20:45
Mido Macia (Picture: AP)

Mido Macia (Picture: AP)

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Johannesburg - A key witness in the State's case against nine police officers accused of killing Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia admitted in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday that he had made a mistake in implicating one of the officers in the case.

Warrant Officer Mpumzi Ngamlana, under cross-examination from defence lawyer Benny Ndaba, admitted he had made a mistake in implicating Motome Ramatlou in the case. Ndaba is representing four of the officers accused of Macia's murder.

Ngamlana had earlier testified that Ramatlou had nothing to do with Macia's death, saying he had not seen Ramatlou in the vicinity of the police cells where Macia was kept and later died. However, in some of the statements he had made to police, he had mentioned Ramatlou by name several times.

Thamsanqa Ncema, Linda Sololo, Meshack Malele, Ramatlou, Percy Mnisi, Bongumusa Mdluli, Sipho Ngobeni, Lungisa Ewababa, and Bongani Kolisi were arrested after a video showing Macia being tied to the back of a police van and dragged down Eiselen Street in Daveyton, went viral and caused public outrage.

Police say they had a confrontation with Macia when he refused to move his taxi, which was obstructing traffic.

Macia was found dead in the police holding cells several hours later. A post-mortem found that he had died from a lack of oxygen.

The police have denied playing any part in Macia's death, and have claimed he was alive when he was put in the cell.

Ngamlana was the cell commander at the police station.

Ndaba began his cross-examination by asking Ngamlana about his previous day's testimony.

"You mentioned clearly to the court that [Ramatlou] did absolutely nothing", to which Ngamlana said: "Yes".

"Do you know why accused number nine [Ramatlou] is before court?" Ndaba said.

"No, I cannot clarify that," Ngamlana replied.

"Do you want me to tell you? It's because he was implicated by you in your statement. Do you agree with me?" Ndaba said.

"The first statement that you made on March 2 2013, you mentioned that the deceased was brought in by Constable Mdluli, Constable Ewababa [and] Constable Ramatlou."

'I was very much confused'

Ngamlana replied that he had made mention of Ramatlou, but he may have made a mistake.

"On the second statement, you said the deceased was brought by Constable Mdluli, Constable Ewababa, Constable Ramatlou," Ndaba said.

"That is correct," Ngamlana replied.

"My question is: was it a mistake again that you mentioned Ramatlou?"

"It was a mistake," Ngamlana replied.

Ndaba proceeded to point out to Ngamlana in his next statement - among six he had made about the Macia case - that he had implicated Mdluli, Ewababa, Ramatlou and Ngobeni.

"You again mentioned the name of Constable Ramatlou. Was it again a mistake?" Ndaba said.

"It was a mistake because I was very much confused," Ngamlana replied.

Ramatlou's name again appeared in a statement made on October 13 last year, along with the other officers Ngamlana had implicated in Macia's death.

"That statement was made more than a year after the incident. Are you still saying that it was a mistake to mention Constable Ramatlou?" Ndaba said.

Ngamlana agreed that it was a mistake, saying he remembered that Constable Ramatlou arrived at the cells afterwards.

"He came from the direction of the charge office after the others were already inside," Ngamlana said, speaking through an interpreter.

'How do you falsely implicate a person'

Ndaba put it to Ngamlana that he had testified that Ramatlou was not at the cells when Macia was allegedly assaulted with an open hand by an officer.

"Why, after a year, do you make the same mistake that he was there? How possible is this?" the defence lawyer said.

"I do not know why such a mistake keeps repeating itself," Ngamlana responded.

"So you say that was a mistake?" Ndaba asked, with Ngamlana answering in the affirmative.

"What I don't understand is... how do you falsely implicate a person that was not there?" Ndaba surmised. 

"That is why I say it was a mistake," Ngamlana said.

Judge Bert Bam then asked Ngamlana directly: "The question is why, in several statements, did you keep falsely implicating accused number 9 [Ramatlou]?"

"I do not know how I made that mistake because I remember clearly... the others were in the other cell," Ngamlana said.

The case was adjourned to Friday.

Read more on:    police  |  mido macia  |  johannesburg  |  police brutality  |  crime

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