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Krejcir trial: State objects to pic as exhibit

The prosecutor in the trial of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir and five others on Wednesday objected to a photograph being entered as evidence.

Annelene van den Heever, for Krejcir, had wanted to show witness Bheki Lukhele a picture of Vusi Msimango, the first state witness to testify in the trial. This is a contravention of the court’s order, prosecutor Louis Mashiane said, stating that the media had been barred from taking pictures in court.

He explained that the picture was taken on Msimango’s first day in court as he stood in the dock testifying. “It can’t be used. It would be the fruit of the forbidden tree,” he said.

“I got it from the newspaper,” Van den Heever said in response. No photographers had been permitted into court that day and only two video cameras belonging to the SABC had been allowed in.

Mashiane suggested that the person who had taken the photograph should come forward to account for taking the picture.

Judge Collin Lamont said the matter would be attended to later and the picture was not entered as evidence. The court ordered that Lukhele’s image not be shown on television or in photographs.

He is the complainant in the trial.

No court order
When the court resumed after lunch, Van den Heever said she had learnt there was no court order on Msimango’s pictures being published. She said the picture was a still image taken from the SABC’s footage. Lamont agreed to it being submitted as an exhibit.

Lukhele testified that he was not sure whether the man in the picture had been part of the group who forcefully took him from his Katlehong home in June last year.

Krejcir, Desai Luphondo, warrant officers Samuel Modise Maropeng and George Nthoroane, Jan Lefu Mofokeng and Siboniso Miya are charged with kidnapping, assault and attempted murder of Lukhele, allegedly in a bid to make him reveal his brother Doctor’s whereabouts.

Doctor allegedly disappeared with 25kg of crystal methamphetamine (tik). He worked for a cargo company at OR Tambo International Airport and had been tasked with transporting the drug to Australia, allegedly for Krejcir. Lukhele said he was released in Katlehong after four days of captivity. All six have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A week after Lukhele was released, his brother and another man came to see him, the court heard. Lukhele’s brother had apologised for dragging him into the matter. Reading from Lukhele’s statement, Van den Heever said: “He said he didn’t know they would do this but he knew one of them.

“He worked with one of them at the airport. Bhekisizwe said they claim he owes them thus he quit his job at the airport.”

Lukhele has said that during the assault, Krejcir poured boiling water over his head, causing injuries. Van den Heever said the doctor who had reportedly examined Lukhele after the incident had been subpoenaed. He had responded to the subpoena, saying he had provided the state with the original medical file in October last year. Van den Heever demanded that the defence be granted access to the files. 

She indicated that the defence had organised their own medical doctor to examine Lukhele’s injuries. This was expected to happen on Thursday, before the court proceedings.

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