DURBAN – The legal representative for two of the accused in the so-called Glebelands Eight trial has told one of KwaZulu-Natal’s police forensic field workers that he “expected more” from his work.
Advocate Martin Krog was questioning Colonel Mthokozisi Sishi, who five years ago processed one of the crime scenes in which former Durban Central police detective Bhekukwazi Mdweshu and several of his co-accused have been implicated.
Names of the accused were not mentioned during Sishi’s evidence, or during questioning by state Advocate Dorian Paver.
Sishi was grilled about a “black mark” he described as “blood”, found on a plastic vegetable oil bottle.
This is presumably the blood alleged to link Mdweshu to four attempted murders that took place at Block R of the hostel in August 2014.
Sishi was a constable at the local criminal records centre when he processed the crime scene.
Krog asked Sishi why he only swabbed the bottle and not the “visible” blood found elsewhere at the scene.
“The detective [Sergeant Cebekhulu from Umlazi SAPS] said the other blood belonged to the victims as he had been told where the victims were sitting when they were shot,” said Sishi.
Krog retorted: “Why not then, as a bare minimum, take photos of the blood?”
“It didn’t cross my mind at the time. I was shown what was needed by the detective on the scene,” said Sishi.
Krog also tore into the lack of context in some of the photos in Sishi’s crime scene album.
“This photo exists in a vacuum,” he said of the blood smeared bottle.
“It could have been taken anywhere. Visually, it’s just a bottle with some substance on it.”
There was no context to show where the bottle was photographed, he said.
“I would have expected a lot more in terms of where the bottle was from, the measurements etcetera.”
Krog also asked why the area in which the bottle was found was described by Sishi as on the “floor”, when it was actually found on the ground.
“It was on the ground behind a white van,” said Sishi.
Krog asked why the location of the bottle was not added into the crime scene album, notably that it was found however far away from the vehicle.
“It must have just been a mistake,” replied Sishi.
Krog also asked if Sishi had notes to assist him during his testimony, as he worked on the crime scene five years ago.
“Yes, I have notes, but they are in my docket and I couldn’t find it,” said Sishi, adding that the docket could not be traced since he last had it when in court.
Krog also asked why there was “an absence of shell casings” in Sishi’s photos.
“When I arrived, the bullet casings had already been removed,” said Sishi.
“So it appears local policemen not from your specialised unit collected the shells. Did you chastise them?” asked Krog.
“If I get to a scene and the exhibits are gone, my immediate thought is that the detectives have dispatched them,” Sishi replied. He had no personal knowledge of who had collected them, he said.
Returning to the blood smeared bottle, Krog asked Sishi if he was aware that the first time the DNA from the bottle was analysed, according to documentation, was in 2018.
Once evidence was sent to the laboratory, it was out of his hands, said Sishi.
“Are you aware it was only examined in 2018?” pressed Krog, to which Advocate Paver took exception.
“He has already answered,” said Paver. “[Advocate Krog] is badgering the witness.”
“If you are going to object, stand up and object, don’t mutter at me,” Krog snapped at Paver.
Mdweshu's co-accused are Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcobothi, Eugene Wonderboy Hlophe, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele.
In total, they face 22 separate counts, including nine of murder, seven of attempted murder and possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, for crimes allegedly committed at Glebelands between 2014 and 2016. Mdweshu is also facing counts of extortion and racketeering. The men have all pleaded not guilty.
The matter continues on Thursday and is set to run until September 30.