Marikana murder trial: Cop questioned on integrity of crime scenes

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Miners sing and dance during the commemoration of the 2012 Marikana massacre in August 2016.
Miners sing and dance during the commemoration of the 2012 Marikana massacre in August 2016.
Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld, Gallo Images
  • A State witness, who is a police officer, endured a full-day cross-examination on Tuesday centred on the integrity of the crime scenes he worked on.
  • The officer is testifying in the murder trial of former North West deputy police commissioner Major-General William Mpembe and five other cops following the events in Marikana on 13 August 2012 - three days before the infamous massacre. 
  • The defence believes the movement of people may have compromised the scenes. 

A police officer was grilled on Tuesday on the integrity of crime scenes in Marikana.

The defence cross-examined Lieutenant-Colonel Moses Mushwana in the North West High Court in Mahikeng.

Mushwana is the State's witness in the murder trial of former North West deputy police commissioner Major-General William Mpembe and five other cops. 

He was at the crime scenes following events that unfolded at Lonmin K3 shaft in Marikana - three days before the infamous massacre in August 2012. 

Mpembe, retired Colonel Salmon Vermaak and Constable Nkosana Mguye as well as warrant officers Katlego Sekgweleya, Masilo Mogale and Khazamola Makhubela are on trial for the incident which claimed the lives of five people. 

The former deputy provincial commissioner faced four counts of murder and five of attempted murder, News24 reported. 

It is alleged Mpembe unlawfully and intentionally shot and killed Semi Jokansi, Thembalakhe Mati, Hendrick Monene and Sello Lepaaku. 

News24 also previously reported he and Vermaak were also each facing a charge of defeating the ends of justice and another of giving false information under oath before the Farlam commission of inquiry into the Marikana massacre between 2013 and 2014. 

Mushwana testified on Monday he was on the scene and had taken blood swabs from a knobkierie and home-made spear. The witness, who was a captain at the time, attended the scene to collect forensic evidence and photographs. 

READ | Marikana trial: CAS numbering, cartridge case finding in question as cross-examination continues

He told the court, sitting before Judge Tebogo Djadje, he had prepared sketch plans and collected other evidence such as cartridges from firearms from the two scenes. 

But Mushwana's testimony came under scrutiny by the defence.

Soon after that Mpembe's lawyer, Jan Ellis, questioned him on the lack of visible photos of the weapons he said he had found at the scene. 


On Tuesday, the CAS numbering, as well as the integrity of the crime scenes, was questioned by Ellis and Vermaak's lawyer, advocate Kobus Burger, during his turn for cross-examination. 

Mushwana said he could not fully cordon off the crime scenes he worked on because the area was "huge".

Burger asked whether anyone had assisted him when he was collecting exhibits from the scene, and he replied, "Col Mandla", saying he helped him with checking cartridge cases from firearms.

When Burger asked the police officer whether he comprehended why he was asking so many questions, emphasising the situation about protecting a scene, Mushwana replied and said "yes".

"To me, if the integrity of a scene is compromised once, then it is difficult to have any value to the rest of the scene," Burger said.

He asked Mushwana whether he protected the crime scenes when he left them and revisited, and he replied no.

Mushwana testified he had revisited the scenes on 14 August and again on 9 October 2012.

When asked why he returned to the scene on 9 October, Mushwana said he wanted to make an extraction at the location and place cones because on 13 August he had no cones.

Crime scene cordoning

In trying to prove his point about the compromising of a scene to the witness, Burger pointed Mushwana to a photo in the album where he said seven people could be seen.

The lawyer questioned why the individuals seen in the photo were on the scene.

In reply, Mushwana said: "My lady, I cannot say because that is why I said after lunchtime, that I agree that my crime scene was [not fully cordoned]."

He added he did not know the people who were in the picture, saying to his observation they looked like some were police officers and others residents.

Burger then read out a statement submitted by a member of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) who went to the scene on 13 August 2012.

In the statement, the IPID officer described observations from the time of arriving at the scene after being called in.

Reading the statement, Burger said the officer said on arrival at the scene there were multiple Nyalas roaming around as well as "upset" police officers.

The IPID officer said he walked around the scene and came across a dead body that was lying on the door of a shack.

"Would you agree that [walking around of people, including the IPID officer] in itself would have compromised the scene?" asked Burger.

In reply, Mushwana said: "My lady, I cannot confirm." 

The defence will continue with its cross-examination of Mushwana on Wednesday.

ICYMI | Marikana trial: Police officer testifies about collecting blood swabs, evidence

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