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Mob justice witness breaks down

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Court adjourned as Ezekiel Ramokoe was afforded time to calm down after seeing victims burnt body

BREAK: Court had to be adjourned yesterday after Redumetse Ezekiel Ramakoae broke down after he had to view the burnt remains of the deceased during cross-examination at the Northern Cape High court yesterday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

COURT proceedings at the murder trial of seven people accused of assaulting and then setting a man alight, had to be adjourned for a few minutes yesterday after a witness became emotional when viewing pictures of the deceased.

Ezekiel Ramakoe, who was giving evidence in the case being heard in the Northern Cape High Court, broke down in tears in the witness stand when asked to point out in a photograph how far he was standing from the deceased during the alleged assault.

The seven suspects – Bokang Sehapi, Khunoan Mafoe, Tebogo Ngoanahali, Retshidtswe Ngoanahali, Mamotsebetsi Rhakojane, John Thene and Taeli Rakhiba – are accused of beating Skhukula Mosebetsi to death and setting his body alight after dousing it with petrol in an apparent mob justice incident.

Ramakoe told the court that he was with Mosebetsi at the time of the incident on December 31, 2016, in Madiba Park.

He broke down after he saw Mosebetsi’s body in the photographs. Acting Judge Sharon Erasmus adjourned to afford the witness some time to calm down.

Ramakoe sat in the witness box for a moment after the court had adjourned but left the courtroom when he broke down and started crying profusely.

When proceedings continued later, the counsel used a piece of paper to cover the part of the picture showing the body of the deceased.

According to the witness, he saw the accused assaulting Mosebetsi as he was not standing far from the scene.

Ramakoe said that although he was not friends with the accused, he knew them as they had worked together.

He stated that he was injured after he was assaulted by the accused prior to the alleged assault on Mosebetsi.

Ramakoe said that he had run to the shanty of Shirley van Wyk, where he found Mosebetsi and Van Wyk, her husband and her sister.

The defence argued that Ramakoe found the courage to face the angry mob outside the shanty, and they assaulted him before allegedly assaulting the deceased.

“You were running away from the people who were assaulting you. However, when the deceased was assaulted, you were brave enough to stand next to him. You were injured yet you stood there. These people were armed with kieries and other weapons, as you claimed, yet you were brave enough to face them,” the defence argued.

Ramakoe said that although he was injured, he could not leave his friend.

Previous testimony by a medical expert, who conducted the post-mortem on Mosebetsi, said that the deceased had suffered multiple blunt force wounds and cuts.

The cause of death was said to be strangulation.

According to the medical expert, Mosebetsi had died before his body was set alight.

The trial continues.