Cops hid Krejcir co-accused’s assaultComment on this story
Johannesburg - Police tried to hide the assault of one of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir's co-accused, Desai Luphondo, the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Monday.
Annelene van den Heever for Krejcir and Luphondo, said the police had deliberately kept a page from them which came from the police station's occurrence book.
The entry stated that Luphondo had complained of being assaulted by police as they arrested him on November 22, 2013.
The entry was made on the morning after the arrest.
“They deliberately kept the page from the defence... They tried to hide it,” Van den Heever put to Captain Bongani Nicholas Gininda, who was testifying in a trial-within-a-trial aimed at establishing whether Luphondo had been assaulted into a confession.
Gininda took down Luphondo's confession several hours after he had allegedly reported the assault.
Judge Colin Lamont warned Van den Heever on her line of questioning, suggesting that the page may have been left out by mistake.
He cautioned her on making a defamatory statement.
“You'll pay the damages,” Lamont said to her.
Van den Heever, however, insisted that the only inference she could make was that the page was deliberately left out.
The tension rose in the courtroom as Lamont and Van den Heever exchanged words. Lamont queried why Van den Heever saw it fit to question Gininda on matters he might have no answers to.
Gininda was not based at the station where Luphondo had been held but had been called in to independently take his “confession and admission” statement.
As Lamont and Van den Heever argued, Van den Heever allegedly made gestures with her hands and eyes, leading to Lamont saying:
“These are the little things that you do that irritate me about you.
“It doesn't help to pull your lip and look at the sky.”
It was not the first time that the judge and the blonde-haired lawyer had been at loggerheads.
Lamont said her questioning was irrelevant to the witness.
Looking straight at Lamont through her glasses, Van den Heever defiantly told the judge she was entitled to question the witness on this point.
Gininda, who has 20-years' experience as a police officer, remained composed throughout his cross-examination.
He told the court that he did not know of any assault on Luphondo, adding that there was no assault which had taken place in his presence.
Van den Heever pressed on and insisted that Lamont was “part and parcel” of those who had tried to hide the assault.
Krejcir, Luphondo, Warrant Officers Samuel “Saddam” Maropeng and George Nthoroane, Jan Lefu Mofokeng, and Siboniso Miya faced charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and dealing in drugs.
They allegedly recruited a man known as Doctor Nkosi to help smuggle 25kg of tik (methamphetamine) to Australia.
He worked for a cargo company at OR Tambo International Airport, and allegedly disappeared with the shipment.
Krejcir and his co-accused allegedly then kidnapped and tortured his brother, Bheki Lukhele, in a bid to have him reveal his sibling's whereabouts.
Nkosi has also testified in the trial where he confessed to stealing the drugs.
On Monday, Gininda told the court that before January, he had no involvement in the investigations of Krejcir, Luphondo and other accused.
When he took Luphondo's confession, he was not part of any case involving Krejcir or Luphondo.
He claimed he got involved several months later when he was appointed into a national task team established by the national police commissioner Riah Phiyega to probe a case of conspiracy to commit murder.
The case, in which Luphondo, Krejcir and several others were implicated, came about following allegations that there had been plans to kill an investigating officer in the matter.
Gininda maintained he had followed protocol when taking Luphondo's statement on November 23, 2013.
He claimed to have informed him of his rights, questioned him whether he had been assaulted or influenced into making the confession and ensured he knew the implications of making it.
All of this information was contained in the document containing the confession.
According to the document, Luphondo said he had not been assaulted or pressured into the confession.
Last week, however, Van den Heever objected to the statement being entered as evidence.
She informed the court that members of an elite police unit who had been guarding the court were part of those who had arrested Luphondo and influenced him into making the confession.
The officers were replaced on Monday.
Van den Heever then told the court that she wanted access to Gininda's office diary from last year, cellphone records as well as vehicle tracking records.
Gininda said he could provide the records.
Court was adjourned to Wednesday as Lamont and Gininda had other commitments on Tuesday.