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Nelspruit - One of the men accused of murdering an 86-year-old farmer in Mpumalanga told the Nelspruit circuit of the High Court in Pretoria on Friday that he was tortured into confessing.
Aaron Majawodwa Nkosi, 30, who is facing murder, robbery and kidnapping charges along with his co-accused Thomas Johannes Nyathi, 30, was testifying during a trial within a trial, a Sapa correspondent reported.
The two are accused of robbing and kidnapping Güdryn Schoeman, 67, and murdering her husband Johannes Hendrik Tolstoi Schoeman, 86, at their home at Vygeboom Farm on December 17, 2010.
“After I heard from Constable Sekgobela from Badplaas... that police were looking for me, I went there and handed myself at the police station on December 21,” Nkosi said.
“On arrival, I met Constable Sekgobela, who asked me if I knew anything about the incident at Vygeboom Farm. After I told him I knew nothing about it, he took me to the detectives' offices where four police officers assaulted me with open hands on my face.”
Nkosi said Sekgobela did not read him his rights when he placed him under arrest.
“He never read my rights and only gave me a certain paper to sign. Inside the detective's office, Constable Sekgobela handcuffed me and covered my head and face with a plastic bag,” he said.
“They kept assaulting me and 1/8then 3/8 stopped, forcing me to confess to the crime. It lasted for 30 minutes but I never sustained any injuries during the assault. I also did not tell other police members or the prisoners awaiting trial that I had been assaulted because I was afraid.”
He told the court that on December 22, he was handed over to Warrant Officer Joel Zulu.
“Warrant Officer Zulu also did not read me my rights. He spoke in Afrikaans to another police captain known as Roussou, and translated what Roussou said in siSwati,” Nkosi said.
“They... gave me another paper, which I signed.”
He said Zulu and Roussou drove with him to Vygeboom Farm.
“At the farm, I was told where to stand and my photos were taken by a white police officer,” he said.
“Thereafter they drove with me to an ATM in Belfast and another place at Carolina where they claimed the accident happened. Photos of me pointing out the two places were also taken.”
Captain Martinus Roussou, from the Hawks in Middelburg, testified that Colonel Britz, also from Middelburg, requested him to conduct the pointing out of the crime crimes.
“When I met the accused on December 22 at Badplaas police station, no injuries of assault were visible. I then conducted an interview with him with Warrant Officer Zulu as my interpreter,” Roussou said.
“He had a scratch on his neck which he said he sustained during an accident. He told me and... Zulu that the driver of the vehicle involved was Johannes Nyathi.”
He told the court Nkosi also had other injuries on his body, including one on his leg, which he claimed were sustained during a car accident.
“The accused agreed to do the pointing out voluntarily and he was not assaulted in my presence. He also did not report he had been assaulted.”
Zulu testified that when he first saw Nkosi, he had no bruises and no swelling on his face and body.
“I only observed a scratch on his neck which looked old. The injuries were recorded in the occurrence book in the charge office when he was booked in,” he said.
“The suspect had a right to say if he had been assaulted as the member doing the recording was not with us all the time.”
Judge Mmonoa Teffo asked Zulu if he had seen Nkosi being assaulted on December 22.
“Not at all... It was Nkosi himself who did the pointing out at all the scenes, not me as he claimed,” Zulu said.
Prosecutor Advocate S Ntuli said Nkosi could have told the Carolina Magistrate's Court’s presiding officer about the torture during his first appearance.
“He said he was assaulted by four strong police officers but was never swollen or bleeding. He never told anyone and even never went to see a doctor while on bail.”
Teffo said after the cross-examining of the witness by the State and defence, it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that no assault took place.
“The State has accepted that no assault took place on the accused, and the matter of the pointing is also admissible.”
The case was postponed to September 2.