Allegations of “propaganda, counter-intelligence” and “attempts to create a smokescreen” emerged during the trial of the four alleged “Kings Park brawlers” on Thursday, with suggestions of a possible cover-up by the firm handling the stadium’s security contract.
“One runs the risk of losing a contract, possibly worth millions, if your security measures are found wanting,” advocate Christo van Schalkwyk suggested to Neil Burger, the general manager of Fidelity Security Services in Durban, and the most senior security official on duty at the rugby stadium on the night that former British Royal Marine Brett Williams was killed.
And, the advocate put to him under cross-examination, it seemed there may have been tampering with the CCTV footage from the night of March 23 last year, and he may too have been “kept in the dark” about this.
Van Schalkwyk is representing brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard, who are standing trial before Durban regional court magistrate Trevor Levitt, along with their friends Andries “AJ” van der Merwe and Dustin van Wyk on charges of murdering Williams and others relating to assaults on security guards.
They have all pleaded not guilty.
In his evidence-in-chief, Burger claimed he had gone to the area near the tractor shed at about 10pm on that night after being alerted to a fight.
When he got there, the situation was calm, but soon “all hell broke loose”.
After being punched himself, he claims he saw Williams on the ground with Blayne Shepard kicking him and “stomping” on his chest, before he walked away and “high-fived” an unknown man standing nearby.
But Van Schalkwyk said his client denied the assault, and accused Burger of “being dishonest about this”, saying medical evidence would show Williams had not a single mark on his torso which could have been caused by kicking and stomping.
“You can lead your evidence. I know what I saw,” Burger said.
“How many times was he hit?” Van Schalkwyk asked.
“I did not count. I was absolutely disgusted,” Burger answered.
He later described the attack as “brutal and violent and unnecessary”.
It was also put to him that the paramedic who attended to Williams did not support his version that she had been kneeling next to him when Blayne launched his attack.
He denied repeated suggestions that he had attempted to minimise any connection between the accused and their friends and Fidelity.
He had not given police the names of the security guards on duty that night or those at the scene because, he said, he did not know all their names or how many were there.
Van Schalkwyk put to it to him that his guards were “the fighters”, throwing punches and kicking.
Burger replied: “I beg your pardon! I never saw that.”
Burger identified Blayne Shepard only at the identity parade.
Williams’s fiancée, Louise Scott, has been attending the trial all week, but leaves on Saturday to go home to England.
She was hoping the trial would be finalised while she was here, but it will be adjourned on Friday until September for five days, and then November for another five days.