In South African law, everything must be done to protect the integrity of evidence so that it can not be suspected of being tampered with, the lawyer defending Molema “Jub Jub” Maarohanye and Themba Tshabalala told the Protea Magistrates Court in Soweto today.
Maarohanye and Tshabalala face charges of murder and attempted murder, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
They were allegedly drag racing when one of their Mini Coopers ploughed into a group of school children on Mdlalose Drive, in Protea North, in March last year.
Four children died in the accident and two others suffered severe injuries, including brain damage.
Today, defence lawyer Ike Motloung cross-examined Inspector Mpho Matshidiso, who last took the stand during the men’s bail application.
Matshidiso transported their urine samples to the forensic laboratory in Joburg.
“In my view, you can’t guarantee that [samples were not tampered with]”, Motloung said.
Matshidiso testified that he received two blood and two urine samples on March 9 last year, a day after the incident, and kept them in a locker in his office until March 18, when they were taken for forensic analysis.
He said it took nine days for the samples to get to the laboratory, because he had been waiting for the written go-ahead of a senior court prosecutor.
He told Motloung he could guarantee that the samples had not been tampered with as the door to the office he shared with his superior was locked when they were not there.
He was also in possession of the only key to the locker.
“Do you know if Captain [Moses] Segapo tampered with the samples?” Motloung asked him.
“Before you got the exhibits, Captain Segapo had managed to get his hands on them,” he said.
Matshidiso said he could not say whether Segapo had.
Motloung asked him why he had not taken the samples back to the exhibit room if it was not going to the laboratory immediately.
Matshidiso said Segapo handed him the case docket on March 9, the day he received the samples.
Earlier in the day, Matshidiso denied instructing laboratory analysts to specifically look for morphine and cocaine.
This, after forensic analyst Jose van Rooyen told the court she was given a note to look for certain substances in the urine samples.
Van Rooyen is a forensic analyst for the Department of Health at its forensic laboratory in Joburg.
She testified that a number of drugs were found in the urine samples.
The first sample was found to contain cocaine, codeine, benzoyl codeine, paracetamol, diphenhydramine and cotamine.
The second sample contained traces of cocaine, codeine, benzoyl codeine, nicotine, caffeine and paracetamol.
“These are all drugs,” she said.
She said the samples did not show the levels of the substances.
Van Rooyen told the court that every piece of equipment she used to conduct the analysis was certified and that a quality control test was conducted before the analysis started.
She also told the court that she was a forensic analysis expert, but was not a toxicologist and could not say how the drugs would affect a person’s behaviour.
As Maarohanye left the courtroom for the lunch break family members of the children who died shouted: “In the end you killed.”
One of the women, who did not want to be named, said: “He told us to f**k off.”
Courtroom six at the Protea North court house filled up in the course today’s proceedings.
Relatives wore T-shirts for the Parents in Action organisation, which they started against drug and alcohol abuse.
The case continues tomorrow.