/ 30 January 2012

Terre’Blanche’s widow speaks of ‘not sober’ suspect

Slain rightwing leader Eugene Terre’Blanche’s wife heard from a radio station that her husband was dead, the high court sitting in Ventersdorp heard on Monday.

Martie Terre’Blanche testified that her sister phoned to tell her that her husband’s horse was running up and down its fenced area the day of his death.

Her sister lives next door to the farm outside Ventersdorp, in North West, where Terre’Blanche was killed April 3 2010.

Struggling to hold back her tears, Martie told the court she called her husband numerous times before phoning his sister to ask her to check on him.

Just before 6.30pm, the local radio station, Radio Overvaal, phoned her to find out if her husband was dead.

“I did not believe it and said I would find out,” she told the court.

The suspected killers had apparently alerted Ventersdorp police that Terre’ Blanche was dead.

Farmworkers Chris Mahlangu and a minor are accused of beating the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader to death. He was 69 years old.

Both have pleaded not guilty to murder, housebreaking, and robbery with aggravating circumstances. Mahlangu claims he acted in self defence. The teenager has denied involvement in the crime.

No notable strain
Terre’Blanche’s wife said on Monday that there had been no notable strain between her husband and the workers accused of killing him. “My husband always said he [Mahlangu] worked well,” she testified.

She said Mahlangu knocked on her kitchen window between 10am and 11am on the day of the murder, and asked for a loan.

She said she would have to ask her husband before giving him money, as the workers would receive their salaries only after the Easter long weekend.

She said Mahlangu was drunk when he arrived at her house. “He was not sober,” she said.

Mahlangu told her Terre’Blanche was in Pretoria, but her husband had told her the night before that he was going to the farm.

When she phoned him, he told her not give Mahlangu money as he was almost at their home in Ventersdorp.

On his arrival, he and Mahlangu went to a nearby bottle store where Terre’Blanche bought alcoholic drinks to the value of about R200.

Martie told the court that when her husband got home, he was in a hurry to get back to the farm and told her he would be back that evening.

Earlier, procedures in the arrest and processing of a youth accused of the murder of rightwing leader Eugene Terre’Blanche came under scrutiny.

The young man’s dignity was not respected after his arrest, said Zola Majavu, for the minor, in the high court sitting in Ventersdorp.

“You violated my client’s right to dignity and privacy,” he said.

Majavu was cross-examining Captain Albertus Joubert, who works at the criminal record centre and processed the murder scene.

On Monday, Majavu said the youth was stripped down to his underpants, in full view of other officers, when his fingerprints were taken the day after the murder.

Majavu said everyone had a constitutional right to dignity.

Joubert replied that if there was any possible evidence on the clothes, they had to be collected.

“This has nothing to do with collecting evidence, but how it was collected,” Majavu retorted.

Direct violation
He said the way his client was treated was in direct violation of the Child Justice Act.

Joubert was asked why fluid resembling semen found on Terre’Blanche’s genitals was not preserved, and why a sample was not taken.

Joubert confirmed he did not take steps to preserve the fluid because he understood it was the mortuary’s job. However, he said the fluid was still visible in pictures taken at the mortuary.

Pathologist Dr Ruweida Moorad testified last year that she could find no trace of the substance.

Majavu said: “You deliberately refrained from preserving the evidence.”

Joubert denied this, maintaining the fluid should have been collected by the mortuary.

Joubert was also asked if he knew a guardian had to be present after a minor was arrested.

Majavu said samples taken without a guardian being present violated the youth’s rights.

But Eileen du Preez of the prosecuting team said the Child Justice Act did not provide for a guardian to be present during the extraction of samples.

Joubert said DNA would have been lost if the boy had washed or used his hands.

The trial continues on Tuesday. — Sapa