Questions were posed in the Northern Cape High Court to the investigating officer in the trial of seven people accused of the murder of Kimberley businessman Piet Els as to why an alleged traditional healer, who had apparently hosted the seven accused, was not arrested.
QUESTIONS were posed in the Northern Cape High Court to the investigating officer in the trial of seven people accused of the murder of Kimberley businessman Piet Els as to why an alleged traditional healer, who had apparently hosted the seven accused, was not arrested.
Els and his partner were attacked on his farm outside Kimberley on January 24, 2018. He was brutally assaulted and burnt with a hot iron.
Els succumbed to his injuries on May 15, 2018, after having been admitted to Mediclinic Gariep following the incident.
Seven accused – Morapeli Rankali, Motlalentwa Qhautse, Lizbeth Ndlala, Oupa Jeffrey Mahomane, Themba Lawrence Maja, Samson Sam Mbokane and Jabulani Wilson Zuma – are charged with the murder of Els.
The accused are also facing further charges of robbery and illegal possession of firearms.
According to the IO, Lieutenant-Colonel Doggie Magugu, cellphone data led him to an address in Phuthanang where the accused were allegedly staying.
“Through the cellphone data, we were able to trace a person who was staying in Thabo Modupi Street in Phuthanang. The accused said they met at a house of a traditional healer, where they performed rituals before going to the farm. They did not provide the name of the traditional healer nor could they state where the house was. The cellphone data assisted in that regard and I found a man, Johannes, known as Amos, Ralihlare at the house” said Magugu.
He added that upon meeting Ralihlare, he informed him about the reason for him being at the house.
“I told Ralihlare that there had been suspicion that he might be involved in the matter. I told him that the suspects had stated that there were traditional rituals performed on them in order for the police not to trace them after the suspects had gone to the farm. Ralihlare indicated that he did perform the rituals.
“I then arranged a follow-up meeting with Ralihlare at our Organised Crime offices as I did not have any concrete evidence or a warrant to arrest him. He (Ralihlare), however, never showed up for the follow-up meeting and when I returned to the house where he was staying, the people who were staying inside the house told me that he went to Lesotho. We have issued a warrant for his arrest,” Magugu said.
The legal representative for Ndlala, Mahomane and Mbokane, advocate Pieterse, argued that Magugu had forewarned Ralihlare.
“You forewarned the suspect that the police are after him and never arrested him. You told him that there was a suspicion that he might be a suspect in the matter, then he disappeared. At that stage, you were already in possession of statements from some of the accused who implicated Amos. All those statements were done under oath, yet you did not see that as sufficient and wanted a warrant to arrest Amos,” Pieterse said.
Magugu repeated that he did not have concrete evidence that Ralihlare was indeed the person they were looking for.
“I was not sure if it was indeed the traditional healer with whom the accused met. In the statements, the accused did not give the name of the traditional healer and they did not know the street address. There are many traditional healers in Phuthanang and I had to get my facts right,” he said.
The legal representative of accused seven, Jabulani Zuma, argued that Magugu is selective in who he arrests.
According to Zuma’s lawyer, advocate Chande Booysen, despite the police only being in possession of the cellphone data of her client, her client was arrested.
Magugu argued that some of the accused had called Zuma by his surname and further stated that he was the son of former state president Jacob Zuma.
Magugu indicated that because of the similarities the accused had to the former president, he had no doubt that he was arresting the correct person in Mtubatuba in Richard’s Bay on March 16, 2021.
The trial continues.