Farmworker shot trying to help protesterComment on this story
Cape Town - A farmworker says he went to help a dying Michael Daniels, struck by a bullet allegedly fired by a policeman - and was shot in the buttocks by the same officer.
Sello Mosalo had been taking part in a farmworkers’ wage protest in Wolseley on November 14, 2012.
He said he was standing next to Daniels when he saw the policeman - whom he identified as Constable John Geldenhuys - kneeling, pistol in hand, before firing at Daniels.
“‘Help!’ (Daniels) shouted. When he fell to the ground, I saw (Geldenhuys) kneeling and shooting at the corner of the road. He shot Michael. I saw it was him (Geldenhuys) who shot.”
When he turned to help Daniels, Geldenhuys opened fire again, shooting him in the buttocks, Mosalo told the Wolseley Regional Court on Wednesday. He spent two days in the Ceres Hospital. He was the third witness to testify at Geldenhuys’s trial on one count of murder and three of attempted murder.
Geldenhuys has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but has admitted using live ammunition, saying he acted in self-defence. He continues to be stationed at the Wolseley Police Station.
Geldenhuys’s legal represen-tative, Stanley O’Brien, told the court that blood samples from Daniels’s post-mortem had tested positive for tik, mandrax and dagga. These could have led Daniels to behave in an aggressive manner, he said.
Mosalo said Daniels had not been a threat to police.
O’Brien said the defence would argue that Geldenhuys had fired his 9mm pistol after police ran out of rubber bullets in trying to control the unruly crowd.
“He was in a desperate situation to try to protect himself,” O’Brien said. On that Wednesday morning in 2012, protests turned violent in the small town, when farmworkers, demanded better wages, took to the streets, torching a bakkie, overturning a police van, and smashing the windows of shops and residences.
On Wednesday Jonathan Malgas said under cross-examination by O’Brien that a statement, said to be his and read to the court on Tuesday, was incorrect. He had not admitted to pelting the police with stones.
The statement, taken by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate once the protest simmered down, was not the one he had given, Malgas said.
He denied having signed any statement. Also, the signature on the statement presented to the court was fake, he said.
Malgas was wounded in the right foot. He was taken in a police van with Mosalo and two others to hospital.
Daniels’s body was also in the van. Malgas told O’Brien he had seen protesters running to the railway line to pick up gravel and back to the road to throw it at the police.
Farmworkers in other communities, including De Doorns and Gouda, also came out on strike.
“In the other farming towns where the protests were, police did not use live ammunition. It was only here in Wolseley that they did,” Malgas told O’Brien.
The trial continues on Thursday.