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Prosecutor doubts Tatane witness

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By Andre Grobler

Ficksburg -

The prosecution in the murder trial of seven public order policemen in the Ficksburg Regional Court stopped short of declaring a State witness hostile on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Sello Mathloko was leading evidence of the State’s first witness of the day, Captain Matshidiso Lesomola.

He was deployed in an observer capacity at a protest march in Ficksburg in April last year.

Local resident Andries Tatane was killed, allegedly by police using rubber bullets, during the service delivery protest.

A frustrated Mathloko surprised Regional Magistrate Hein van Niekerk when he asked to make an application to declare the witness hostile, shortly before lunch.

“The State was not aware of the hostility of the witness,” said Mathloko.

“You want to discredit your own witness?” asked Van Niekerk, indicating he did not perceive the witness as hostile.

Mathloko said the State had not been aware of the testimony Lesomola delivered, which was not the same as his statement to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) a few days after the shooting.

Mathloko said Lesomola had read through his statement on Monday, but did not indicated that it contained any discrepancies, as he later alleged in his testimony on Tuesday.

Asked by Mathloko whether he had read the statement, Lesomola said: “Not really, because I was somewhat traumatised, confronted with so many pages, I just signed and went away”.

Given an opportunity in court to indicate with which portions of the statement he was not happy, Lesomola avoided being declared hostile.

Earlier, Lesomola testified that he had not willingly made his statement to Ipid.

He testified that, after watching a video of the protest, he was threatened by two investigators.

Lesomola said he had reported the threats to his senior officer.

During a short cross-examination by the policemen’s defence counsel, Lesomola testified that Tatane had been aggressive during his arrest.

The trial continues. - Sapa

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