Policeman a slippery witness: defense

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IOL tatane apr 23 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Ficksburg protester Andries Tatane.

Suspended public order police Constable Kabelo Pule is a slippery witness trying to cover up his lies, the Ficksburg Regional Court heard on Thursday.

The court was hearing evidence in the murder and assault trial of seven Free State public order policemen accused of killing Ficksburg protester Andries Tatane during a march against poor service delivery in the Setsoto local municipality on April 13, 2011.

Counsel for the officers Johann Nel put it to Pule that he was trying to cover up lies he told the court in evidence in chief as presented by the State.

On Thursday, Nel spend most of the day going through Pule's testimony in which he identified the officers in the videos shown in court.

“You testified accused two (Constable Mothusi Maqana) had a shotgun and he shot at Tatane. I challenge you to show me that he shot any of the shots that went off,” Nel said.

This led to police videos being played in slow motion and Pule paging through 144 photographs of video frames.

Nel submitted that Pule had not mentioned that Magana fired a shot before, except in his evidence in chief.

He did not mention it as witness in the disciplinary hearing of the accused or in two statements taken shortly after the incident.

In these statements, he did mention that Magana was carrying a shotgun on the day, and he brought this to Nel's attention.

“So what, many policemen carried shotguns that day,” said Nel.

“He was in possession of a shotgun,” Pule replied.

Nel responded: “You told the court that accused two shot. The statement does not mention it. The video does not show it. Where do you get it?”

In the police video it could be seen that shots were fired, but the people holding the rifles could not be identified.

Nel repeated his challenge to Pule to look at the 144 photographs from the video and indicate which one showed Magana firing a shot.

After paging for a while, Pule said Magana was not shown firing a shot and that the photographs only showed him in a shooting position.

Nel submitted that it was common cause that Tatane was killed due to a shot to the chest.

“Show me at any time where any of these officers (the accused) could have fired that shot,” Nel said.

Pule shook his head and said only an expert would be able to tell that.

The trial continues. - Sapa

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