Cop tells court of weapons seized ... after seven suspects allegedly attacked a man
THE MURDER trial of seven people accused of assaulting and then setting a man alight continued in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday, with members of the SAPS testifying that they arrived on the scene to find several dangerous items, including empty containers smelling of an accelerant, lying near the body.
The seven suspects - Bokang Sehapi, Khunoan Mafoe, Tebogo Ngoanahali, Retshidtswe Ngoanahali, Mamotsebetsi Rhakojane, John Thene and Taeli Rakhiba are accused of beating Skhukula Mosebetsi to death and setting his body alight in an apparent mob justice incident in Madiba Square on December 31, 2016.
During yesterday’s court proceedings, Warrant Officer Liphuko Seleke, from the SAPS Criminal Record Centre, said that he had arrived at the scene of the incident shortly before 1am on January 1, 2017, where he collected several items believed to have been used as weapons during the attack on Mosebetsi.
These included sticks, garden tools and iron bars, while a knife and an empty bottle were also found not far from Mosebetsi’s body.
While the accused’s legal representative disputed that the smell of flammable liquid would still have been present on a container nearly two hours after the incident, Seleke said that he had recognised the familiar odour of paraffin on an empty two-litre cooldrink bottle that he found a few metres from where the body was lying.
“The incident occurred at around 11pm and I arrived on the scene shortly before 1am,” Seleke testified. “I don’t think the smell would have disappeared in that time.
“While at the scene, I collected several items as evidence and took photographs before sending the exhibits, via courier, for analysis. At the time, I did not notice any blood on a knife that we collected and sent off for analysis.”
Sergeant Benjamin Moapesi, from the Galeshewe Visible Policing Unit, took the stand when court resumed after lunch and testified how he had been the first officer to respond to the call-out.
“I was on duty and we were doing patrols when we received a complaint, via radio control, between 10.30pm and 11pm,” Moapesi recalled. “When we arrived at the shanties, I found a person lying there helplessly.
“There were already ambulance personnel there, who informed me that they had already declared the person dead.
“The person appeared to have been burnt and I could see that his body was swollen from the injuries.”
Moapesi said that Seleke and the investigating officer arrived a few minutes later and he handed over the crime scene to the IO before giving his statement.
“We then inspected the scene and that is when we found a knife and two bottles,” he added. “I didn’t handle these items but I did secure the scene to ensure that they we not tampered with.
“I can’t say for certain whether or not they were there when I first arrived, as we only uncovered these items when we started looking for clues once the IO had arrived 10 to 15 minutes after me.”
The trial continues.
Picture: Soraya Crowie