Victim’s dying declaration queriedComment on this story
Cape Town - A dying man’s last declaration has come under the spotlight in a trial over an alleged vigilante killing.
Among the four people facing charges in the Western Cape High Court are leading Social Justice Coalition activist Angy Peter and her husband, Isaac Mbadu, who also works for the organisation. The other two accused are Christopher Dina and Azola Dayimane.
The State alleges that Rowan du Preez made a dying declaration to police officers before he was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital, where he later died.
He was found in Mfuleni early on October 14, 2012. There are allegations that he had been necklaced.
Ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Estie Meyer took the witness stand for the State on Monday in a “trial-within-a-trial” over whether Du Preez made a declaration and its admissibility.
Meyer looked at whether Du Preez would have been able to speak, considering that he had “100 percent burn wounds”.
She testified that, based on the evidence she had been provided with, she believed there was no anatomical reason why Du Preez would not have been able to speak well enough for someone to understand him.
Under cross-examination, defence counsel William King, acting for Peter and Mbadu, raised questions over whether Du Preez would have been able to make such a declaration with his injuries.
He said that on the evidence of the police officers, burn victim Du Preez had delivered his answers “clearly and without pause”.
Du Preez had stated his full name and address, then claimed that Peter “and her husband” had taken him, put him in a white Quantum, assaulted him, put a tyre around his body and set it alight.
King went on to say that an ambulance assistant had testified that when the paramedics arrived about 10 minutes later, Du Preez hadn’t said anything except ask for water.
He also questioned Meyer about the injuries to the outer, skin area of Du Preez’s eyes, saying eye function was one of the first things to be tested on the Glasgow Coma Scale – a 15-point scoring system used to determine a person’s level of consciousness.
Du Preez had been scored 15 out of 15.
Asked what she would have scored him, Meyer said she hadn’t been there and could therefore not say to what degree the burn wounds to skin around the eyes had swollen.
King also said that there would be evidence that Du Preez had been “fall down drunk” at the time of the incident and asked Meyer whether being drunk or under the influence could affect a person’s ability to speak.
She said it could affect a person’s score on the Glasgow Coma Scale because they could only get a perfect score if they were able to talk sense.
The trial continues.