Pretoria News

Odendaal shooting: officer has chequered past

- SHAIN GERMANER

A PREVIOUS gun-related conviction. A history of alcoholism. Weeks of counsellin­g for emotional distress.

These were some of the reasons given to explain why the police officer charged with the murder of Jeanette Odendaal will be kept behind bars until his trial.

Odendaal, who had been outside the Kempton Park police station on Tuesday night last week, died after sergeant Manape Kgoale left his desk inside the station and allegedly discharged his firearm without warning – hitting her through her passenger window.

At the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court, Kgoale was told he could not handle a firearm and that he was a potential threat to society and himself. His bail was denied.

At the applicatio­n, Kgoale’s medical history indicated his superiors had insisted he attend an alcohol rehabilita­tion course that ended a week before the incident.

The sergeant had also been absent from work without leave for 41 days last January and had been sent for “two to three weeks” of emotional stress counsellin­g after his return.

In documents submitted by his lawyer, Riaan Louw, Kgoale said his girlfriend had been preventing him from seeing his six-year-old child, and this had reportedly led to the more than 40 days of absenteeis­m.

The State argued yesterday this emotional stress and alcoholism meant that Kgoale could be a risk to society and even to himself.

Magistrate Eric Mhlari found in his judgment the State’s fears might be reasonable, especially taking into considerat­ion Kgoale’s previous conviction in 2003 for negligent discharge of a firearm.

Both State witness testimony and the officer’s own version of events of what happened on the night of the incident also emerged.

The State called a member of the Independen­t Complaints Directorat­e’s investigat­ive team, Judah Baloyi, to the stand to explain an eyewitness account of the shooting.

In a summary of events for the court yesterday, the State said the witness, known only as Goldstone, had been parked just two vehicles behind Odendaal’s white VW Golf when the incident occurred.

The 45-year-old had been pulling out of a parking space directly outside the Kempton Park police station when she bumped into the rear of the police van ahead of her.

Goldstone had told police that she had continued to try to get out of the space, bumping another car behind her. A car guard went into the police station to tell officers about the damage. Kgoale came out, walked up to the passenger side of Odendaal’s car and shot at her through the window from about 1m away, having neither shouted nor fired a warning shot. Odendaal bled to death moments later.

However, in his affidavit read by his legal representa­tive, Louw, Kgoale said the car guard had been hysterical when he had entered the station, saying a car was being stolen outside.

As he left the station, Kgoale heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot, and drew his own firearm, according to his lawyer.

He approached Odendaal’s Golf, and because of “the poor lighting, a reflection on the (car) window” and the “pitch dark of winter”, Kgoale said he could not identify the gender or appearance of the person inside.

But he saw the figure in the car lift an arm, “clutching an object”. He assumed it was a weapon and made the split-second decision to shoot at the arm.

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