Sat Sep 20 09:55:05 SAST 2014

The boy will walk!

Apr 15, 2012 | KATLEGO MOENG |

WITH the prosecution and defence about to launch into their final arguments in right- winger Eugene Terre'Blanche's murder trial, it looks like the minor is going to walk.

 State bungles could be a free pass for accused kid 

And this is likely to ignite tensions in the farming town of Ventersdorp in the North West among the late AWB leader's loyalists and the accused's sympathisers.

This after much of the evidence against the teenager was ruled inadmissible - and the cross-examination of the investigating officer this week revealed that he simply had no case against the boy.

The tag team of senior council advocate Norman Arendse and high-flying attorney Zola Majavu have worked meticulously since the trial began in May last year to crush every bit of evidence against the minor accused of killing the right-wing leader.

Chris Mahlangu and the teen are charged with beating Terre'Blanche to death in his farmhouse outside Ventersdorp, North West, on April 3 2010.

Both pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, housebreaking and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Mahlangu claims he acted in self-defence, while the minor denies any involvement.

The minor's defence team first established that there was no physical evidence against the teenager.

Even the investigating officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tsietsi Mano, conceded: "No fingerprints of (the minor) were found at the crime scene. no evidence of blood found on the minor's clothing (and) there were no eye witnesses. There is a possibility of doubt that (the minor) was at the crime scene."

The teen's defence then successfully argued that statements amounting to a confession and pointings-out of the crime scene by the minor should not be allowed as evidence in court.

Their arguments centred on the Child Justice Act that came into effect two days before the murder.

Majavu argued that the minor's rights were infringed as no social worker was present to assess his mental state, and to ensure that he understood what was happening and what to expect from the justice system.

He also argued that the minor was treated like an adult and was humiliated and intimidated by the police, particularly Mano, who had him and Mahlangu transported from the Ventersdorp police station to his office in Klerksdorp, about 10km from the local police station, where Mano questioned the teenager further before booking him in at the police station.

Justice John Horn agreed that all this was a violation of the minor's rights and ruled that any statement the minor had given Mano and the pointing-out of the crime scene were inadmissible in his court.

Horn also ruled that Mahlangu's statements implicating the minor could not be used against the minor, but his statements and pointing out were admissible as evidence against the adult accused.

This week the writing could be seen clearly on the wall when Mahlangu's attorney Kgomotso Tlouane cross-examined Mano and a tragi-comedy of errors was revealed. Tlouane asked Mano if he knew about allegations of sodomy involving his client and Terre'Blanche.

"No, it never surfaced in my investigation. He (Mahlangu) never mentioned it to me. Just before the postmortem ... I asked the doctor if she'd seen semen as I'd been getting media inquiries about it.

"She said no," said Mano.

He said he didn't see the body before the postmortem so he could not confirm allegations of a substance seen around Terre'Blanche's genitals.

Tlouane said his client was sodomised on the day of the murder - a notion Terre'Blanche's wife Martie described in her testimony in February as "impossible" and "sies".

Mano said police examined both accused's bodies and his forensic colleagues said nothing that suggested sodomy.

Arendse asked Mano why he didn't investigate the sodomy allegations and asked what had happened to the semen, as three police officers had testified to seeing a semen-like substance on Terre'- Blanche's lifeless body and it could be seen on police photographs.

Mano said it might have been "an oversight" on his part.

"Mahlangu said he pulled Terre'- Blanche's pants down and exposed his genitals. His intention was to dismember Terre'Blanche. But he decided against it," Mano answered.

He testified that Mahlangu told him he and his co-accused decided to kill Terre'- Blanche because he wouldn't pay them, alleging three of his 97 cows were missing.

Mano said Mahlangu told him he went to a storeroom at the farm, found an iron rod and took it. He and the teenager then entered Terre'Blanche's house through a window and found Terre'Blanche asleep on the bed.

"Mahlangu then hit Mr Terre'Blanche on the forehead with an iron rod. Two other blows followed on the face... (the minor) then took the rod from him. He hit Terre'Blanche in the face and chest," Mano said.

The minor's defence appealed to Horn to treat him as a minor until judgment was handed down. Horn agreed and directed that the minor, who turns 18 next Sunday, be kept at a place of safety (instead of prison) until judgment day, expected on May 22.

On which date we can be pretty confident that he will be a free man...

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Sat Sep 20 09:55:05 SAST 2014 ::

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