Pretoria - Spontaneous applause broke out in the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday as three men were convicted of murdering a senior Gauteng police officer, Major-General Tirhani Maswanganyi.
Judge Bert Bam found that the statements his three killers made, in which they confessed to their part in his killing, were done voluntarily.
Isaac Vele, 31, Tshepo Mosai, 31, and Simon Msibi, 52, claimed they were tortured by the police and forced into making the confessions.
They said the police told them what to write in their lengthy statements after they had been severely assaulted.
The admissibility of the statements formed a large part of the trial, as a trial-within-a trial had to be held to determine whether the confessions were made under duress.
Several police officers involved in the murder investigation testified that the claims of torture were not true.
Judge Bam concluded that the men made the statements of their own free will. He said that each statement was lengthy, consisting of several hundred words. He said it was known that if the police take down statements, they mostly did so cryptically.
These confessions, the judge said, contained a lot of detail regarding the murder. Mosai’s statement consisted of 18 pages, which were written while he was alone in his cell.
He wrote what came to his mind, the judge said. The other two men equally gave details, which a policeman taking down a statement would not necessarily do.
Judge Bam said it was clear the three men had a common purpose to kill Maswanganyi and the murder was pre-planned.
Maswanganyi, a Joburg police cluster commander, was killed in Hammanskraal in June last year.
The three forced his car off the road and forced him at gunpoint to get into another vehicle. They assaulted and strangled him before dumping his body in a veld.
His Isuzu bakkie was found next to the road, which led the police to search for his body. He was found dead with his hands and feet bound together.
While no motive was given for his killing, the State believed it was because of unhappiness with how he conducted certain investigations.
After the convictions, his daughter, Didintle Maswanganyi, sporting a T-shirt with a picture of her father’s face printed on it, said she was relieved it was nearly over, as this had been “a very long road”.
“It is unfortunate that my mother could not be here today to see this.” Shareen Maswanganyi was killed earlier this year in a car accident while on her way to the trial.
Didintle said she would only be able to forgive her father’s killers if they told the truth about what happened that day.
“I don’t believe they decided to kill him.
“They were told what to do. There are still more questions than answers.”
Sentencing proceedings will start on Friday.
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