- The cop accusing Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of assault says their vehicle did not have a permit to enter the cemetery.
- The EFF duo’s defence lawyer says the vehicle did have a permit.
- The lawyer added that certain facts submitted by the cop in his initial statement were not well-construed.
The initial statement made by the police officer accusing EFF leader Julius Malema and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of assault is flawed, according to their lawyer, advocate Laurence Hodes.
Hodes questioned Lieutenant-Colonel Johannes Jacobus Venter about the statement during cross-examination in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Malema and Ndlozi face an assault charge.
It is alleged they assaulted Venter on 14 April 2018 at the Fourways memorial cemetery during the funeral of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
The officer, attached to SAPS’ Presidential Protection Service, took the witness stand and relayed the turn of events of the day he claims he was assaulted.
He told the court that Malema and Ndlozi pushed him when he tried to prevent their vehicle, a black Mercedes Benz Vito, from entering the cemetery.
Venter told the court that he did not see a visible accreditation on the vehicle, but that Malema and Ndlozi had on the necessary accreditation.
He said Malema and Ndlozi were welcome to walk inside and leave their vehicle behind, but they refused.
He added that, when he was explaining the process to them, Malema then jumped out of the car and said, “No white man will stop me”.
But the defence’s questions to the witness regarding his statement, which he made to the police while opening the case, appeared to have him flip-flopping.
The lawyer put it to the witness that there were issues with his statement and the evidence which he gave to the court.
When asked why he had not relayed everything to the court, as was in his statement, Venter said he was in a state of shock on the day of opening the case and had not relayed the turn of events thoroughly.
As a result, in the statement, the wording of some aspects of what happened were not correct.
The police officer said he relayed the turn of events to an officer at the station, who took his statement.
Venter testified that Malema and Ndlozi proceeded inside the premises, even though no permission was granted following the scuffle.
But, in his statement, he said another officer – “Major-General Zulu” – told him to let go of the situation.
Hodes said, in his statement, Venter did not clarify or retract that “Major-General Zulu” indicated they can enter with the vehicle.
The lawyer read a line from a paragraph in the statement, where Venter said Zulu had said it was fine that the politicians could enter.
But Venter said at no stage did Zulu give permission; all she said was that he must step away from the altercation.
He agreed that he had not corrected the statement and that he had no explanation why he did not.
Hodes also said Venter’s statement was problematic in that he was interchanging the use of Malema and Ndlozi as “they” and the “vehicle”, making it difficult to know who did not have the accreditation – the politicians or the car?
The cop explained that the politicians had accreditation, but their vehicle did not have a permit to enter.
Clarifying the statement where he said “Major General Zulu” told him to leave the accused during the scuffle, he said that did not mean they were allowed in – even though they proceeded inside.
Asked what action they took after the politicians had entered, Venter said he continued with his duty and was unaware what happened thereafter – or whether it was reported.
There are few issues that arise from this. Firstly, if you are an effective presidential protection service and you are instructed not to let them in and they never got permission, one would expect you to react and do something?
The lawyer also questioned why the police officer only had access to the one angle of the footage.
“I put to you [that] the evidence of the accused and their version is, that they were part of the convoy and had accreditation.”
Venter testified that Malema told him he would not walk inside, but drive.
Hodes questioned why that fact was not in his statement.
“You make it up as it goes along to suit your case. You agree it was crucial that part of your testimony is that he insisted he is driving in and you weren’t going to allow that, but you didn’t deem it necessary to mention it here (statement).”
No need to apologise
Asked whether he apologised to the two for not allowing them inside, even though they had accreditation, Venter said: “There is no need for me to apologise.”
He said he did not need to apologise because he was conducting his duties.
But Hodes charged that, if Malema and Ndlozi had accreditation, then he ought to have apologised for prohibiting them from entering.
Venter maintained the reason he had prevented the vehicle from entering was because it was not part of the main convoy, which included the Presidency, family, heads of state and other officials.
While Venter said Malema’s car had no visible permit, Hodes put it to him that there was a permit.
Venter will continue with cross-examination on Thursday.
Two other witnesses are also expected to take the stand.
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