Dirty water made it difficult for Rhodes Park victims to stay afloat - police diver

2016-10-28 18:09
Rhodes Park in Kensington, Johannesburg. (Netwerk24)

Rhodes Park in Kensington, Johannesburg. (Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The polluted, murky water at Rhodes Park would have made it difficult for the two drowning victims to stay afloat, the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Friday.

"Even if these victims had the ability to swim, the conditions they faced were uncomfortable," police diver Constable Maria Pollock testified.

The lake was littered with rocks, bottles, tyres and tree branches. These were some of the obstacles she encountered while searching for the bodies of Zukisa Khela and Sizwe Tyeke on October 17 2015.

She was testifying in the trial of Thabo Nkala, 25, Admore Ndlovu, 23, and Mduduzi Mathibela Lawrence, 32. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape, and murder.

They were allegedly part of a 12-man gang that attacked two couples walking in the park, in Kensington, on the evening of Saturday, October 17, last year. They allegedly raped the women and forced their husbands, Khela and Tyeke, to strip before forcing them into the lake, where they drowned.

"It was a very challenging search, the depth of the water, the debris and the darkness of the water [made it difficult].

"The water was dark, so they might not have seen anything. They might have fallen and it may have upset them and put fear into them. They might have been intimidated by the conditions they were left in," she said.

Arms not tied

READ: Tears as police officer describes Rhodes Park murder

Pollock was part of the Johannesburg Flying Squad’s water unit, which arrived at the scene around 21:00 that night.

They found the men’s bodies around 22:20. She swam in the dark water with one arm stretched out and another holding onto a rope which another diver was holding.

She felt her arm hook into the first victim's arm, about 16m into the water. This was 30 minutes into her search. When she brought him to the surface, he only had a shirt on.

She discovered the second body eight minutes later, about 3m from where she had found the first one. He was also half naked. He was wearing underwear, with what looked like a jersey around his waist.

Neither of the men’s arms were tied. She said the lake was shallow around the edges, and suddenly became deeper in the centre.

"The sudden drop in depth will take away the gripping under the feet and shock anyone in this condition."

The men were believed to have drowned between 17:00 and 19:00.

"If you were to go under the water you would not be able to see the moon or sun, irrespective of time," she said.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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