Malema, Ndlozi vehicle was not part of the funeral convoy, cop insists
Johannesburg — The police officer who was allegedly assaulted by EFF leader Julius Malema and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told the Randburg Magistrate’s Court that their vehicle did not have a permit and he had stopped it to seek permission from the venue operations centre to get permission.
Defence lawyer advocate Laurence Hodes, representing Ndlozi and Malema, told the court the vehicle was part of the convoy and all four people who were in the vehicle had the accreditation to be at the cemetery for the late Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral.
He pointed to an object on the Mercedes Benz V-Class signalling it as the permit. The officer denied it was a permit and told the court he had not seen it.
Lieutenant-Colonel Johannes Venter, who is assigned to the Presidential Unit, opened assault charges against Malema and Ndlozi after a scuffle broke out when he tried to bar their vehicle from entering the graveyard.
Hodes questioned Venter about whether the vehicle was part of the convoy — which included the Mandela family, the president and the deputy president and several law enforcement vehicles.
“According to me, the vehicle was not part of the convoy,” insisted Venter.
“According to myself, the vehicle did not have permission to enter, which is why I contacted VOC (venue operations centre) to (check if it could) enter,” said Venter.
Pressed to find out if Venter had ever investigated if the vehicle was ever allowed to be in the precinct, the police officer said he had never spoken to the VOC about the incident since it occurred two years ago.
“General Zulu went to VOC and discussed the matter with Lieutenant-General Sam, who called me in to ask what had happened and informed me that I should remember we are one family and what took place at the gate was wrong.
“I told him I would really like to open the case, which is when I had the case instituted,” said Venter.
Hodes put it to Venter that if the vehicle was never allowed in the venue, the police would have never allowed it to enter after the scuffle and would have done something about the incident.
Venter insisted the vehicle was not allowed and told the court that General Zulu had told him to “leave it”.
“If you watched the video, General Zulu came to me and said leave it, calm down. I think she did it so that the misunderstanding calms down that incident. What General Zulu and Lieutenant-General Sam discussed, I cannot say,” said Venter.
Hodes argued that the authorities allowed the vehicle in as they did not see anything wrong with the vehicle being there, to which Venter answered that he could not answer.
Hodes also told the court earlier that Venter was a member of the lobby group AfriForum, who the court heard were providing him with legal advice on the matter.
The prosecution objected to the relevance of the complainant’s membership, but the magistrate allowed it after Hodes showed cause that the complainant had sought legal advice from the lobby group.
The court also heard that attempts to settle the matter out of court were blocked by AfriForum, who never allowed Venter to meet with the defence.
“Not true. It was my decision,” said Venter.
Hodes also questioned Venter about why he went to AfriForum and Solidarity about the case, and not his superiors at the SAPS.
“I went to Solidarity because I am a member … Our Brigadier does have knowledge (about the case) and did nothing about it,” Venter told the court.
The trial continues.