Underwear mystery plagues Terre’Blanche trial

More police bungling became clear in the Ventersdorp High Court on Wednesday in the trial of the pair accused in Eugene Terre’Blanche’s murder.

A teenager and Chris Mahlangu (28) face charges of housebreaking, robbery with aggravating circumstances and the killing of the right-wing leader Eugene Terre’Blanche on April 3 2010. They have pleaded not guilty.

The state last week presented a strong case with many witnesses testifying that the suspects handed themselves over to police and admitted to the crime, but this week the defence counsel has found many mistakes with the way police handled the case.

On Wednesday the defence cast doubt on forensic evidence that could possibly tie the teenager to the crime.

The only evidence that may link the teenager to the murder could be swabs of DNA taken from his hands and underneath his fingernails, as no blood was found on his boots.

The DNA was taken by warrant officer Bobby Sephiphi on the night of the killing.

However, Sephiphi said under cross-examination that he did not read the minor his rights or even know about the Child Justice Act, which governs the way a suspect under the age of 18 should be treated.

The failure to comply with the Act means the defence could move to have any evidence from the DNA swabs ruled as inadmissible, advocate Norman Arendse, acting for the teenager, told the Mail & Guardian.

Not bagged
A pair of underwear hanging at the foot of the bed on which Terre’Blanche’s mutilated body was lying was discussed at length in court on Wednesday afternoon.

The teenager’s lawyer Zola Majavu attacked Sephiphi for not bagging the “blue underpant” at the scene as evidence, even though he took photos of it.

When Majavu asked the police officer if it was possible the underwear belonged to the one of the assailants, he answered: “Maybe”. Sephiphi also said he did not take swabs of what looked like semen on Terre’Blanches genitals.

Majavu told the court it was possible it could be semen but if it was, did not belong to Terre’Blanche.

On Wednesday, Mahlangu’s lawyer Kgomotoso Tlouane SC said his client would later explain why Terre’Blanche had semen on his genitals.

Tlouane added that Mahlangu would testify that he had been beaten by Terre’Blanche in a separate incident before the murder.

When this allegedly happened, the suspect — who had worked for Terre’Blanche for five months — reported the matter to the Ventersdorp police, who did nothing.

“What he realised was that the police feared Eugene Terre’Blanche and no one wanted to face him,” he said.

The trial continues.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

Beyond the digital cold war: Technology and the future of...

Several African governments have published plans to establish smart cities, including Cairo, Johannesburg, Kigali and Nairobi. They require the most advanced technologies available

Funding a vaccine will tax our limits

VAT should not be hiked, but a once-off levy on mineral resources or a solidarity tax seems likely

‘SA can’t leave its shift to a low-carbon future to...

Innovation and creativity is crucial to guide financing, say experts

Jonas Gwangwa embodied South Africa’s struggle for a national culture

Gwangwa’s love for the struggle was genuine and deep, never cosmetic – and he couldn’t have written an unattractive tune if he tried

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…