Chris Mahlangu’s attempt to reclaim “the only valuable item he had in the whole of Ventersdorp” – a suitcase – led to the murder of right-wing leader Eugene Terre’Blanche.
This is according to Mahlangu’s defence advocate, Khomotso Tlouana, as the trial against Mahlangu and his teenage co-accused resumed in the Ventersdorp Circuit Court on Tuesday.
As proceedings got under way, two conflicting versions of events leading up to the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader’s death two years ago played out in court.
First it was a statement by investigating officer Lieutenant-Colonel Tsietsi Mano that Mahlangu decided to kill Terre’Blanche after the AWB leader resolved not to pay his workers until they had found his three missing cows.
Then there was Tlouana’s version that Mahlangu attacked Terre’Blanche in self-defence after breaking into his home to take his “valuables” suitcase.
According to Tlouana, Mahlangu entered Terre’Blanche’s farmhouse through a window, and it was while attempting to escape through the same window that he got into a fight with Terre’Blanche.
“The accused’s version is that he got into the house so he could get his suitcase… the only valuable item he had in the whole of Ventersdorp was his suitcase. He got in through the window, saw Terre’Blanche, then tried to escape through the same window.
“A fight and sodomy ensued… he (Mahlangu) then saw the steel pipe and hit him,” said Tlouana, adding that upon being struck with the pipe, Terre’Blanche fell on his bed, facing up.
He did not elaborate on the sodomy claims.
Tlouana’s counter-argument was made while he was cross-examining Mano, the man who had taken statements from Mahlangu following Terre’Blanche’s murder.
Mano, who was called in to testify yesterday after testifying in February in a trial-within-a trial that sought to convince the court that the police contravened the teenage accused’s rights, said Mahlangu gave his statement voluntarily.
While Mano said Mahlangu’s version was that Terre’Blanche had been sleeping on his bed, Tlouana gave a different story, saying the AWB leader fell onto his bed after the first blow to the head.
This not only contradicted Mano’s evidence but earlier evidence by pathologist Ruweida Moorad and blood spatter expert Lieutenant Colonel Ian van der Nest, who dispelled any claims of a struggle, saying Terre’Blanche was attacked while he lay on his bed.
While testifying in October last year, Van der Nest said blood spatter on Terre’Blanche’s bedroom walls suggested Terre’Blanche was immobilised by the first blow, ruling out any possibility of his fighting back.
The trial continues.