Trial within trial held after Rhodes Park accused claim assault

2016-11-21 16:15
Rhodes Park accused in court (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

Rhodes Park accused in court (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

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Johannesburg - A trial within a trial was held to decide the admissibility of certain evidence in the Rhodes Park case.

This comes after the three men accused of raping two women and killing their husbands in Rhodes Park, east of Johannesburg, last year claim they were assaulted by police officers into making confessions.

Lawyers representing Admore Ndlovu, 23, Thabo Nkala, 25, and Mduduzi Mathibela Lawrence, 32, told the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge on Monday morning that their clients were assaulted and forced to make confessions.

"Nkala will come and tell this court that he made a confession because he was assaulted," his lawyer Thulasizwe Mpanza said.

This comes after a police officer testified that he was the one who took down their confessions.

Colonel Mhlanganyelwa Moses Mbotho told the court that he had received a request from the investigating officer to make arrangements for the three to make their confessions.

No complaints of assault - police

Mbotho was a branch commander at Cleveland police station at the time.

When the lawyers argued that their clients were assaulted by police officers, Mbotho said he had not received any complaints of assault from any of the three men.

"If there is an assault where the accused person is complaining about, it will be written on the OB [occurrence book] and it will be found by the station commander.

"I strongly disagree that the accused were assaulted. I stand by my word," Mbotho said.

Lieutenant Colonel Bhuti Duma on Thursday said he had carefully read his rights to Nkala.

Meanwhile, the investigating officer, warrant officer Bruce van der Shyff, said the three accused willingly made their confessions to the police.

Van der Shyff said after their arrest they had also confirmed their street names, "Mdu", "Je-Je" and "Rasta".

They were co-operative and never complained of any form of assault.

'Old injuries'

However, Nkala claimed that he was taken to a house where he was assaulted by a white police officer who went by the name "BJ", but Van der Shyff denied this.

Duma on Thursday said Nkala’s clothes were in good condition; he was in good spirits and was smiling. Nkala also had a scar on his face.

“He said it was a natural scar on his face, he was not assaulted,” Duma said.

He had also told Nkala that if he was assaulted to deliver a statement, he was able to assist him.

Nkala only replied with, “Yes”.

When Duma had asked the question if he was ever assaulted by anyone, Nkala said, “No”.

One of the questions read, “Do you have injuries, bruises, scars, of any nature on your body?”

Nkala replied, “No”.

Lawrence's lawyer Portia Phahlane said her client's head was put into the dam water and he was kicked on the chest before he was forced to make a confession. Van der Shyff denied this too.

A third police officer, Sergeant Rudzani Khameli, who took the photos of the accused, also denied the claims.

State prosecutor Monde Mbaqa handed him a photo album with pictures of the three men.

Mbaqa pointed out pictures of scars on the accused in the album. Khameli said all the scars were old.

"I did not see any injuries on the suspects. I only saw old injuries," he said.

Questions not allowed

He had also denied that the men were assaulted. Judge Papi Masopa asked if he as a photographer was allowed to ask the accused if they were assaulted.

Khameli stuttered and said he was not allowed to ask questions.  

Ndlovu, Nkala and Lawrence 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. They allegedly forced the women's husbands, Zukisa Kela and Sizwe Tyeke, to strip before forcing them into the lake, where they drowned.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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