Witness in 2009 murder case anxious during testimony

2018-01-30 20:19
Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Durban - The main witness in a trial, in which former Durban resident Travis Nel is accused of attacking and killing an Irish citizen in a nightclub after a rugby match in 2009, floundered during his evidence on Tuesday.

Nel is accused of murdering John King at 80’s Nightclub in August that year.

Hermanus Swart - who is the only State witness who claimed he saw the incident - became highly agitated during cross-examination by Nel’s attorney, Carl van der Merwe.

After the tea break, he refused to return to court and, when he finally did, he told Durban Regional Court Magistrate Sharon Marks that he was experiencing extreme anxiety and could not continue.

The magistrate excused him, telling him to return the following morning.

'No comment' 

Earlier, Swart said he knew Nel’s face because he had seen his picture on Facebook.

He said, after the rugby match - a tri-nations tussle between the Springboks and the All Blacks - he had been at the "One Stop" suite at the stadium.

Swart claimed he had seen Nel there and had even been in the toilet with him at the same time.

He said later he had gone next door to 80’s Nightclub. He had not had too much to drink because he had been driving, he added.

Swart said he noticed a man sitting on a couch near the entrance to the club. He saw him get up and saw Nel punch him on the right jaw. The man fell, hitting his neck against the couch and then landed on the floor.

Under cross-examination, it was suggested to him that he could not have seen Nel - and another man he named as having told him who Nel was - at One Stop that evening because both had been at a wedding.

He replied: "No comment."

Heavily intoxicated 

Forensic Pathologist Dr Christa Hattingh, in her evidence on Tuesday, said King had died from a skull fracture.

She said this had been caused by his head hitting a flat, unyielding surface.

She said there were no visible injuries, such as a broken jaw or teeth, but said this did not mean that he had not been punched before he fell over.

Dr Hattingh said King's blood alcohol level, post mortem, was 0.18, which means that he was quite heavily intoxicated at the time.

The case has taken nine years to get to court because Nel left South Africa to return to London where he was, and is, still living. 

He was arrested once but the charges were provisionally withdrawn. He was arrested again in December 2016, when he arrived in South Africa for a visit.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge and denies assaulting King.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

Read more on:    durban  |  courts

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