Lawrence Mathibela, one of the three men accused of raping two women and murdering their husbands at Rhodes Park in October last year. Picture: Simone Kley

Johannesburg - The Johannesburg High Court sitting in Palm Ridge has dismissed one of the Rhodes Park murder accused’s claims that he was assaulted and coerced into giving a statement.

Thabo Nkala told the court on Tuesday that he had been pressurised into giving a statement that implicated him in the rapes of two women and murders of their husbands.

Nkala, Admore Ndlovu and Mduduzi Mathibela Lawrence are on trial on charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape, and murder. All three have pleaded not guilty.

They were allegedly part of a 12-man gang that attacked two couples walking in the park in October last year.

“I have come to a conclusion that the statement and pointing out were freely and voluntarily made, the accused was in his sober senses,” said Judge Papi Masopa.

The trial within a trial was held to decide the admissibility of certain evidence in the case.

During his testimony, the 25-year-old illegal immigrant from Zimbabwe told the court that he was taken to a house in Yeoville on different occasions where he was severely assaulted, pepper sprayed and suffocated.

Judge Masopa asked Nkala how he knew the house was in Yeoville if he never saw where the car was being driven.

“It’s because we travelled a short distance,” he said.

Nkala stuck to his story even under intense cross examination.

The judge also asked why police assaulted him twice if he had agreed to cooperate with them the first time, and said his claims didn’t make sense.

He took a deep breath followed by a short pause and replied, “I don’t know why they did that.”

Defence lawyer Thulasizwe Mpanza said Nkala had been confused in the process: “It is my submission whenever you get assaulted, inevitably you get confused.”

The judge asked Mpanza why he never challenged the witness who testified that Nkala looked calm and at ease on the day he made a statement.

“You never challenged the witness from the state who testified that Nkala was calm and at ease when giving a statement.”

“Your client also had ample time to tell police and he didn’t. He also said he told two legal representatives from the Magistrate’s court about the assault but why weren’t those lawyers called to court to testify,” Masopa asked.

Judge Masopa also questioned why Mpanza hadn’t brought his client’s file if indeed he was treated for coughing after being pepper sprayed.

“Mpanza, did you even check the occurrence book if your client was really booked out,” asked Masopa.

Mpanza confirmed that according to the occurrence book Nkala was never booked out as he claimed.

Nkala and his two co-accused, Edmore Ndlovu,25, and Lawrence Mathibela, 32, all claim they were assaulted and forced to make statements.

African News Agency