Police fail to investigate murder case properly

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ST titimani02 INLSA GRIEVING: Thandiwe Titimani, whose son Sibusiso was killed. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

VUYO MKIZE and SHAUN SMILLIE

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THERE were supposed to be enough guns there to start a war – at least 16 firearms, ammunition and 15 swords.

But yesterday the police had mud on their faces when it was revealed in court that those firearms were pellet guns, the type used by children to hunt birds.

Outside the Germiston Magistrate’s Court, two families cried.

Tears of relief streamed down the faces of Braam Harmse, 50, his wife Susan, 50, their sons Braam, 20, and Darnie, 19, their son-in-law Chris Duvenage, 25, and Wesley Courtney, 27, as charges of murdering Sibusiso Titimani, 15, more than three weeks ago were withdrawn.

ST primrose guns01 Insufficient evidence: Some of the weapons seized from the six accused who were arrested over the murder of 15-year-old Sibusiso Titimani in Primrose, Germiston, last month were only pellet guns. Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse Tiro Ramatlhatse

Nosinara Titimani’s tears, however, were of despair and disbelief that her grandson’s murder was still a long way from being solved.

Sibusiso was attacked while walking with his 18-year-old friend along an open field in Primrose, Germiston, on a Saturday afternoon last month. Three men wearing balaclavas stabbed Sibusiso in the head.

He died from his wounds later that day at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Sibusiso’s family and residents of the Primrose informal settlement said at the time that the murder was racially motivated, as they knew that white men would sit at that open field dressed in camouflage clothes and balaclavas, claiming to want to avenge the death of AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche.

More than a week ago, the six family members were arrested in their home in Primrose East after 16 firearms, 15 swords, a swastika badge, camouflage clothing and ammunition were found by police officers during their raid.

However, it appears police were premature in linking their findings to Sibusiso’s murder.

ST Germiston Court 11-061 NOT OVER: Braam Harmse and his wife Susan got R1 000 bail each. Picture: Timothy Bernard INLSA

“This case had been postponed for an identity parade, but the State witnesses couldn’t point out anyone as they (attackers) wore balaclavas. The State is not proceeding with the charge of murder as there is no link whatsoever,” said magistrate Deon Snyman.

Despite Duvenage being pointed out during the identity parade by one of the Primrose residents as having been involved in another attack last year, the State also conceded it lacked a strong case against him as he had a solid alibi.

Harmse and his wife Susan still face charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm, but the court heard that that firearm did not belong to them – they had been keeping it for a friend.

The couple did have two firearm licences and the rest of the firearms were, in fact, pellet guns.

“Somebody is going to have mud on their face,” said Snyman. “We heard that many firearms were found in your possession, but they were pellet guns.

“People get so upset, they come outside court toyi-toying, (but in the) meantime these people have not even been pointed out… It’s always much better if you hear all the evidence. There is nothing against the accused as it stands.”

Police had raided the house after an anonymous tip-off and claimed to have found at least 16 firearms.

Yesterday, police spokeswoman Pinky Tsinyane defended the police’s blunder.

“In a raid, if the police are not sure, they send the items to be checked. It is up to the courts to decided,” she said.

Duvenage was granted R1 000 bail for his case of attempted murder, and Harmse and his wife were each granted R1 000 bail for the possession of an unlicensed firearm. The case was postponed until July 13.

The family’s lawyer, Boela van der Merwe, said the wrong message had been sent about his clients to the community of Primrose.

“The whole matter was not properly investigated. As the magistrate said, there will be mud on someone’s face.

“People jumped to the wrong conclusions.”


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