Port Elizabeth - Former Port Elizabeth police constable Walter Francis, charged with a murder in which his official police firearm was used, may be off the hook.
This emerged in the Port Eizabeth High Court after senior prosecutor Jason Thysse conceded the State had not established a "common purpose" in the murder of a suspected gangster in Bethelsdorp in Port Elizabeth's Northern areas.
Thysse told the court there was no evidence placing Francis on the scene of the 2014 murder and there was no evidence a conspiracy.
The State has asked the court to convict Francis on a charge of culpable homicide instead.
The State alleges that on October 25, 2014, Francis, 29, Enzorich Kroates, 22, and Clement Kogana, 29, were at the home of Shane Potberg, 34, when a shooting incident occurred.
Following the shooting incident, Francis gave his official police firearm and several rounds of ammunition to Potberg, a suspected gangster.
At the time of the alleged crime, Francis was stationed at Humewood police station.
The State had alleged that the next day, Potberg, Kroates, Kogana and another person drove to Bethelsdorp to "take out" Denton Rademeyer.
“The accused ought to have seen that someone would have been shot after he handed the firearm over,” said Thysse.
Defence Advocate Terry Price argued an amendment to culpable homicide would be an infringement of Francis’s constitutional rights.
Price said it would be prejudicial in that Francis was entitled to prepare his defence on the basis of what he was charged with in the indictment.
Thysse was at pains to point out that the indictment and a murder charge was drafted on the basis of the contents of the case docket, including a statement of a Section 204 witness who is now dead, evidence that the State was not allowed to lead.
A section 204 witness, Alex Ferreira, who apparently drove the vehicle for Rademeyer's murder, was meant to testify in the case but was subsequently shot and killed last year. Ferreira's statement was subsequently ruled inadmissible at the trial.
Francis was subsequently also charged with Ferreira's murder.
The former police officer has admitted to giving his service pistol and a large amount of ammunition to Potberg but claimed that he had nothing to do with the killing.
In his evidence, Francis claimed that he gave the firearm to Potberg for safekeeping.
Potberg was also charged in the case but was shot and killed when gunmen fired into his Dolph Road house in Bethelsdorp in February 2016.
Francis’s co-accused Kroates and Kogana were earlier both found not guilty on charges of murder and unlawful possession of firearm and ammunition.
Judge Jannie Eksteen had said there was no evidence that placed them on the scene of the murder, no evidence showing that they participated in the murder, nor was there any evidence linking them to the possession of the gun and ammunition.
The case against Francis was postponed until Friday for judgment.
African News Agency/ANA