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Prof disagrees on killer’s ‘control’

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According to Professor Gerald Labuschagne, John Mamogale had the non-pathological criminal capacity to be held accountable for murdering his then 27-year-old wife

TESTIFIED: Professor Gerard Labuschagne testified in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday. Picture: Danie van der Lith

WHILE the former SANDF member accused of killing his wife with an R4 assault rifle, amid allegations of infidelity, may not be able to recall committing the offence, he would still have been in control of his actions at the time of the incident.

The trial of John Mamogale, who is facing a charge of murder in connection with the fatal shooting of his 27-year-old wife, Shelly Mamogale, at the Boitumelo Jwa Sechaba Guesthouse in 2015, continued in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday with state witness, Professor Gerard Labuschagne, disagreeing with the findings of the Head of Psychiatry at the Northern Cape Department of Health, Dr Keith Kirimi.

According to Labuschagne, who is a director of L&S Threat Management, South Africa’s first sole-purpose threat assessment and management company, Mamogale had the non-pathological criminal capacity to be held accountable for his actions.

During the presentation of his findings to the court yesterday, Labuschagne said that he believed that while Mamogale may not remember actually pulling the trigger to fire the fatal shots, the accused was not in a state of automatism at the time of his wife’s death.

“Amnesia is an almost daily occurrence in most of our lives,” Labuschagne explained, citing examples of people questioning themselves whether they remembered to lock their car or close and lock all the doors before leaving home.

“It doesn’t mean you weren’t in control of your actions. It simply means you can’t remember.”

Labuschagne, who is a former section head of the SAPS’s Investigative Psychology Section (IPS), said that intimate partner murder/suicides (IPMS) were considered the most extreme form of domestic violence.

He added that South Africans were among the most likely to use firearms when committing such offences.

Mental illness, particularly on the part of the offender, has also been identified as a risk factor with depression the most common mental illness.

Labuschagne added that while alcohol was another major contributing factor, illicit substances rarely appeared to play any significant role.

Studies have found that police, military personnel and security guards constituted the majority of perpetrators.

Jealousy, pathology, aggressiveness, a need for control on the part of the offender and estrangement, or the ending of the relationship by the victim, have also proven to be common themes in instances of IPMS, while the fatal act is usually pre-empted by a history of domestic violence.

According to Labuschagne, these are all characteristics that are usually present in instances of IPMS as well as intimate partner murders (IPM).

“Consistencies typically include an element of jealousy, which may be due to real or feared abandonment of the offender by the victim,” said Labuschagne.

“Those who are separated have higher homicide rates than those that are in intact relationships, and these tend to occur in the immediate aftermath of separation.”

Labuschagne, however, emphasised that these overlapping features did not automatically rule out the possibility of a non-pathological criminal incapacity scenario, a factor that necessitated additional exploration into the merits of each instance.

Regarding the case at hand, the behavioural analyst pointed out that the accused had taken a decision to engage in lethal violence, claiming to have been waiting for his shift to begin in order to illegally obtain the R4 assault rifle used in the shooting.

He also pointed out that the accused had left the army base, gone to the guest house and fetched his mother-in-law before returning a second time to confront his wife.

“Other actions include placing the firearm in the boot of the vehicle when he heard it fall off the backseat, purchasing airtime to call the deceased, and arranging for the mother-in-law to call someone to contact the deceased,” said Labuschagne.

“The implications are that he had decided to engage in lethal violence when he went to fetch the firearm, discharged the weapon into the door, but was able to delay the lethal violence for the time period while there was a conversation between himself and the deceased, then discharged the weapon fatally one last time.”

The witness acknowledged that while the accused would have been under extreme emotional stress, the circumstances surrounding the shooting were by no means unique but seldom resulted in the loss of life.

“What Mamogale was facing was something people face on a daily basis without any lethal results.

“He was an angry, hurt man, who expressed his anger in a lethal way at the source of his anger.

“I am therefore of the opinion that there are no convincing indicators that the accused was experiencing overwhelming psychological pressure that overwhelmed his ability to control his behaviour.”