Ash­ley Kriel wait­ing for jus­tice

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ISSUES -

po­lice an­tag­o­nists, par­tic­u­larly as it is ev­i­dent that he was al­ready hand­cuffed.

Sec­ond, the size of the bul­let hole in the cloth­ing shows that the shot which made it was far from be­ing a con­tact shot, a 5cm by 5cm hole, whereas the ac­tual hole in the cloth­ing was about 0.5cm , the size of the bul­let. A con­tact shot would have ripped the cloth­ing, leav­ing a mas­sive gap­ing hole in the track­suit top

To deal with this ev­i­dence, Cap­tain Wil­lie Visser and Pro­fes­sor Kno­bel tes­ti­fied. Visser did nu­mer­ous ex­per­i­ments with sim­i­lar cloth­ing and the car­cass of a pig be­hind the cloth­ing. To his dis­may he could not re­pro­duce the small hole.

This should have been a warn­ing but, alas, he sol­diered on us­ing a va­ri­ety of back­ground ma­te­rial un­til he could re­pro­duce the same size hole by push­ing the muz­zle of the weapon deep into a sand bag which had the cloth­ing draped over it.

To de­scribe this sort of ex­per­i­ment as sci­en­tific non­sense is an un­der­state­ment. It is sci­en­tific fraud at worst, or sci­en­tific stu­pid­ity at best for Visser. I blame him less than Kno­bel and Sch­wär who were aware this was non­sense and did not raise a mur­mur of dis­sent. The en­tire ex­per­i­ment was an exercise in fu­til­ity.

The cor­rect ex­per­i­ment would have been to drape the cloth­ing over a pig and, us­ing the same weapon and am­mu­ni­tion, ex­am­ine the size of the de­fect in the cloth­ing. It is not sci­en­tific to vary the pa­ram­e­ters of the ex­per­i­ment to achieve the re­sult de­sired.

Dur­ing the in­quest, we had the uned­i­fy­ing demon­stra­tion by Kno­bel with the muz­zle of the pis­tol pushed against his bare arm, to demon­strate that the marks on the skin of the de­ceased mea­sured up to the di­men­sions of the weapon.

It ob­vi­ously passed Kno­bel by, that the test should have been done through cloth­ing. Not against bare skin. That is not what hap­pened in the ac­tual case in point.

To de­scribe the ev­i­dence of

Visser and Kno­bel as a farce is kind. It demon­strated a lack of any form of sci­en­tific insight .

Sadly, Sch­wär should have pointed this out, but his si­lence stands as a dark stain on his in­tegrity.

Kno­bel, too, should have known better, but in his zeal to de­fend the po­lice and at the same time to dis­credit me, he of­fered this trav­esty as ev­i­dence. Re­mem­ber that Kno­bel was pro­fes­sor of foren­sic medicine at UCT and head of de­part­ment.

There was no com­ment from the bench. Hoff­mann pre­dictably found no fault with the non­sense pa­raded be­fore him by the two State wit­nesses.

Hoff­mann also made no com­ment about the fact that the state­ments by Abels and Ben­zien were in es­sen­tial as­pects word for word prov­ing the two col­luded in the pro­duc­tion of the court papers.

There is now a pre­vail­ing cli­mate con­ducive to re­vis­it­ing such mis­car­riages of jus­tice fol­low­ing on the suc­cess­ful re­open­ing of the Ahmed Ti­mol mat­ter.

The time is upon us to open the Kriel in­quest.

Ben­zien, Visser and Kno­bel are still alive and need to ex­plain their ex­tra­or­di­nary be­hav­iour to a court, and they need to con­vince the coun­try that their ev­i­dence was given in good faith and not merely to pro­tect the po­lice from a charge of mur­der.

The bal­lis­tic ev­i­dence showed be­yond any doubt that the shot that killed Kriel was in fact one of two shots and that the po­lice ver­sion of events could never have taken place.

Hoff­man was a tool of the po­lice and a dis­hon­est ap­pa­ratchik in the ide­o­log­i­cal thrall of the apartheid gov­ern­ment.

The malfea­sance of Hoff­mann and oth­ers of his ilk needs to be ex­posed, not only to bring jus­tice fi­nally to Kriel, but also to send a strong mes­sage to mag­is­trates that for those who be­come state-minded, his­tory will judge them harshly.

A screen­grab of Ash­ley Kriel, anti-apartheid ac­tivist who was killed by the apartheid gov­ern­ment.

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