A policeman was quizzed yesterday about his phrasing of a question while taking a statement from a man accused of killing Anni Dewani.
Captain Adolf Jonker was asked in the Cape Town High Court why he had amended the standard question about whether Xolile Mngeni first wanted to consult a lawyer.
In a video shown to court, Jonker was seen asking Mngeni whether he wanted to consult a lawyer before carrying on, “or continue with the statement”.
Mngeni had replied: “I want to continue making the statement.”
Jonker said he altered the question to make it easy for the accused to understand. But Qalisile Dayimani argued that the addition at the end of the sentence “induced” his client into making a statement.
The statement forms part of a trial within a trial, in which the judge must decide whether the State can admit it as evidence.
The defence argued that the statement was made under duress and questioned the authenticity of a video showing Mngeni making it.
Dewani was killed in Gugulethu on November 13, 2010, in an apparent hijacking while on honeymoon with her husband, Shrien. Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, robbery and murder.
Jonker was asked whether the translator he used to interpret the Xhosa admission was qualified. He replied that the translator was referred by investigating officer Captain Paul Hendrikse. He was happy with the way the translator had conveyed his questions to Mngeni.
The lawyer asked if Jonker had requested the translator’s appointment certificate. Jonker said he had not. He had looked only at his police identification.
Earlier, the court watched a video of Mngeni making his statement, in which he described the details of a hijacking in Gugulethu. He said he got a lift to the tourist spot Mzoli’s on November 13, 2010, and walked with a man named “Mawewe”. He was “taking a leak” when Mawewe saw a vehicle and shouted to him: “There it is.” Mawewe stood in the middle of the road, pointed a gun at the car and signalled the driver to stop.
He sat in the front passenger seat while Mawewe drove the vehicle.
Mngeni told Jonker that a “white man and woman” were sitting in the back seat. “They said: ‘Please don’t kill us…’ They took out two phones and a camera. I told them: ‘You are not going to be killed.’”
Mngeni said he asked Mawewe: “What are we going to do with these two people?”
Mawewe replied that he would separate the couple. At this point, the “white man” apparently said he could not be dropped off alone, because “this is his wife”.
The vehicle came to a stop and Mawewe shouted to the man: “Voetsek, voetsek, get out, get out.”
His wife started crying. They drove off again and stopped in Kuyasa. Mngeni said Mawewe tried to take a small bag from the woman, but she held on to it.
He heard a gunshot, and asked Mawewe what had caused him to fire. Mawewe told Mngeni he could not tell him what to do and they got into an argument. The vehicle was eventually abandoned in Ilitha Park.
The trial resumes today. – Sapa