Officer cleared in cop’s death

2018-05-21 16:00
Sergeant Malcolm Goodwin died after being shot by his colleague Samarasen Naiker during a police exercise.

Sergeant Malcolm Goodwin died after being shot by his colleague Samarasen Naiker during a police exercise. (File)

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Investigators covered up the death of a policeman at a shooting range, said a Pietermaritzburg magistrate, who on Friday acquitted the officer charged with his murder.

Magistrate Naseem Cassim said he agreed with suggestions by Samarasen Naicker’s advocate Gideon Scheltema SC, that there was a “cover-up of what occurred to absolve the police involved of liability concerning their conduct”.

The cover-up was also designed to conceal deficiencies in the police not having proper safety mechanisms in place during the training exercise.

Sergeant Malcolm Goodwin died after he was shot by Naicker during an exercise on January 20, 2016 at the Victor Lembede Shooting Range in Mountain Rise.

At the time, police officers were role-playing to learn how to react in a real crisis situation.

Something went wrong in the act and according to Naicker, Goodwin turned around and pointed a firearm at him, prompting Naicker to draw his own gun.

Naicker said he heard the sound of the hammer of Goodwin’s firearm being activated and “instinctively discharged” a round in Goodwin’s direction.

The magistrate said that only two witnesses testified for the state, and neither could say anything about the firearm Goodwin had — which was not his — and how he came to have it.

Cassim also said it was “beyond logic” why the firearm Goodwin had was not handed in as evidence. He found it “incredulous” that there were 27 trainees at the scene but no one saw the shooting.

“There is nothing to gainsay what the accused [Naicker] has to say. But for the evidence of the two witnesses there is no other evidence the court can convict on.”

Cassim said the evidence was of “poor quality” and it would be unfair for Naicker to testify in his defence.

Naicker was relieved the matter was finally over.

He said now that he had been found not guilty, no one would look into Goodwin’s death and the “negligence of police” that day.

His attorney, Jacques Botha, said he has been instructed to get a record of the proceedings transcribed for the matter to be taken to the police and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

A civil claim will most likely follow, he added.

Goodwin’s sister, who did not wish to be named, said: “What upsets me the most is that he [Naicker] has not taken accountability for being responsible for his own weapon.”

Wiping away tears, she said the police had lied to the family from the beginning.

“The story we were told in hospital is different to what we heard in court. We have a right to hear the truth,” she added.

Another family member said that “protocol and procedures” were not followed during the training exercise and during the investigations into Goodwin’s death.

“It was a chain of events that led to one specific outcome,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court case

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