WITNESS: George Ellison testified in the Kimberley High Court yesterday, that he had witnessed the incident but was unable to identify the suspects.
WITNESS: George Ellison testified in the Kimberley High Court yesterday, that he had witnessed the incident but was unable to identify the suspects.

Twist in trial of killer’s co-accused

By Murray Swart - Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 3, 2017

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Kimberley - While the man convicted of murdering Geoffrey Japhta in 2013 did not testify in the trial of his two co-accused on Wednesday, the Northern Cape High Court heard from a witnesses that he had not been able to positively identify Hein Kock at the scene of the crime, despite sworn statements to the contrary.

Kock, who was handed a 15 year sentence for the offence in 2015, was feeling too ill to testify in the murder trial of Steven Metsimetsi, 23, and Lebogang Moabi, 26, who are facing charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances relating to the death of Japhta.

The court heard from one of the three witnesses who testified during on Wednesday’s proceedings, that he had been prompted to provide false testimony against Kock by the investigating officer in the case.

Constable Cedric Louw was on patrol on the night in question, when he received information about the stabbing in front of the Sunrise Tavern in Ritchie.

“When I arrived on the scene I found a person lying in the veld, about 100m from the tavern. I tried to talk to him but he didn’t respond,” Louw told the court on Wednesday.

“He was wearing a Kaizer Chiefs shirt that was covered in blood. I lifted the shirt and saw four stab wounds.”

He said that he called for an ambulance and that the medics declared Japhta dead on the scene.

Ritchie resident George Ellison was next to take the stand. He said that he was at his home in Pelindaba when he heard a commotion outside, shortly after midnight, on December 23 2013.

“I was in the house that night and I went out to the toilet. While I was heading back inside I heard someone screaming from outside the yard. I looked and saw people standing around as if there was a fight. One of them was screaming and I asked them what they were doing,” said Ellison.

He said that he was not able to identify any of the three figures leaving the scene as it was dark at the time.

“I went out and saw Geoffrey lying there, full of blood. I recognised him because he had people in Ritchie and we grew up together.”

While Ellison testified on Wednesday that he had not been able to positively identify any of the three figures he saw at the scene, under cross-examination he claimed that he had been coerced by the investigating officer (IO) to sign a statement claiming that he had seen Kock that evening.

“I did not recognise any of them at the time, but when the IO came to me the next day he said that he had found a blue T-shirt and pants in a backpack, covered in blood, that belonged to Hein.

“He told me to give a statement and say it was Hein Kock, but I said I can’t say it was him because I had not seen the person.”

Moabi’s legal representative, advocate Pierre Fourie, put it to Ellison that according to his own testimony, the IO had instructed the witness to lie in his sworn statement.

“The following day, he (the IO) asked me to tell him what happened,” said Ellison. “When I was finished, he read my statement back to me. I was satisfied with what he said and that is why I signed. I didn’t see what actually happened but only the three walking away and the one lying there.”

John Rens was the third and final witness to testify before court adjourned yesterday. He told the court that he had been friends with Metsimetsi, Moabi and Kock at the time of the incident, but had subsequently distanced himself from them while they were in custody.

According to Rens, he had been asleep on the evening of December 23 when he was woken up by Kock and Moabi, who arrived at his shack apparently under the influence of alcohol.

While Moabi was staying with Rens at the time of the incident, the witness said that he did not sleep there every evening.

“Moabi told Hein that it was not him who had done the stabbing,” said Rens. “Hein was wearing blood-stained clothes. The two were quarrelling until they left my shack. I’m not sure where they went from there.”

Rens added that the police came to get his statement on Christmas day and they recovered sheep shears, believed to have been the murder weapon, wrapped in a T-shirt he had previously lent to Kock.

“It’s my T-shirt and it is still at home,” he said under cross-examination. “I gave the sheep shears to the police and told them I got it from Hein.”

According to Rens, he had seen Kock the day after the stabbing (December 24), which was when he had retrieved the item of clothing.

“When I fetched the shirt it was fine and was not stained with blood. The sheep sheers had blood on the bandage wrapped around the handle.”

DFA

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