‘Mahao was caught off guard’
TWO South African Police Service (SAPS) forensic experts on Tuesday told the SADC Commission of Inquiry that their findings had shown that former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao was caught off guard when he was killed by his colleagues in June this year.
Ballistics expert Major christiaan Mangena and Criminologist Warrant Officer Bandile Bright Bain Mlumbi said bullets holes found on the vehicle the deceased was driving showed he was attacked when he didn’t expect it.
Major Mangena said the window on the right side of the vehicle (the driver’s seat) was closed during the shooting “because the glass fell inside indicating the pressure of the bullet from outside and into the vehicle”.
Major Mangena also showed the commission pictures of torn clothes lt-gen Mahao was wearing on the day he was killed.
“The deceased’s vest, shirt, jersey and mechanic suit top were washed and had no traces of blood even though they had bullet holes.”
Major Mangena said for the dignity of the deceased and sensitivity of his findings, he would show the commissioners the pictures in camera and not in public.
Warrant officer Mlumbi also said bullet holes at the back of the deceased’s vehicle were obtained before the 25 June 2015 shooting which ended his life.
He added: “My findings indicated that injuries sustained by the deceased from the right side were consistent with the broken window of his vehicle. on the crime scene, there was little evidence of glass but there was more evidence of glass from the inside of the vehicle and it indicated that he was caught offguard. i saw the crime scene clearly and examined what we had because we never got a chance to examine the vehicle that took him from the scene,” he said.
Asked by commissioner Noel Ndlovu to explain why the deceased’s vehicle did not have any blood, Warrant Officer Mlumbi said: “Blood is thicker than water and he might have jumped out of the vehicle before the blood pumped out of his body. i attended the crime scene three weeks after the incident and i could not see the amount of blood that came out at the scene.
“And then again, i did not get a lot of things that i needed to access to reconstruct the crime scene. i was not able to come up with a correct and comprehensive report because there were indications that the crime scene was contaminated.
“The cleaning of the deceased and the washing of clothes were the first challenges to my job. We also requested the Deputy commissioner of Police and Acting commissioner for assistance to access the things that we needed to complete our job but we did not get the help we asked for. i don’t know the reasons but it never happened.
“i reconstructed the crime scene but with not full access to what i needed to do so.”
The SADC commission is investigating the circumstances surrounding lt-gen Mahao’s death at the hand of soldiers who had come to arrest him for allegedly planning to topple the army command.