Intimidation claims emerge in 2009 Durban nightclub murder trial

2018-01-31 22:17
Magistrate's court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Magistrate's court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Durban – A key witness in the murder trial of Travis Nel, accused of assaulting and killing an Irish citizen in a Durban nightclub in 2009, has claimed that he is a victim of intimidation.

Nel, who is accused of punching John King in the face at Eighties Nightclub after a rugby test match between the Springboks and All Blacks in August that year, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

So far only one eyewitness, Hermanus Swart, has testified in the ongoing trial before Durban Regional Court Magistrate Sharon Marks.

Swart claims he saw Nel on that night both at the One Stop suite at the Kings Park Stadium and later at the club.

He alleges he saw Nel punch King in the face. King fell onto the arm of a couch and then onto the floor.

While under cross-examination on Tuesday, Swart refused to return to the courtroom after the tea adjournment, saying he was experiencing extreme anxiety.

CCTV footage not with police

When he returned on Wednesday morning, he explained that he had been intimidated by members of a gang, who he claimed were friends with Nel.

He stuck to his version that he had witnessed the assault that night.

Nel's attorney, Carl van der Merwe, said his client denied assaulting anyone.

"That is what he says. That is not what I saw," Swart responded.

It emerged during questions from Marks that at the time of the incident there was CCTV footage of the altercation. But this appears not to be in the hands of the police.

Former police officer Brian Pholia testified that he had conducted an ID parade with another eyewitness (who has not yet testified).

Because Nel was overseas, living in London, it had been conducted as a "photo parade" in November 2010, more than a year after the incident.

'He sticks out like a sore thumb'

Pholia said nine photographs – as supplied by investigating officer Colonel Anton Booysen – had been used.

"It took the witness 45 seconds to point out photograph number nine (Nel)."

Under cross-examination, Pholia conceded that it was improper for Booysen to have provided the photographs.

He also conceded that, given the extensive media coverage and publicity on social media about the crime, that it was "unfair" to hold an ID parade a year later.

"If he knew who the suspect was, it would be easy to point him out," Van der Merwe suggested.

The magistrate said that while photographs one to eight were of "expressionless white males", number nine was the only one to have a beard and seemed to be grinning.

"He sticks out like a sore thumb," she said to Pholia.

"Correct," was his response.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.