Overlooked, planted & tampered: Defence slams police work at Meyiwa crime scene

As the trial continues on Friday, these are some of the key arguments that were made at Thursday’s hearing.

Sergeant Thabo Mosia taking the stand on Thursday, 2 June 2022 in the Pretoria High Court. Picture: Mihlali Ntsabo/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The defence counsel in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial on Thursday continued its cross-examination of the forensic officer who was first at the crime scene.

The then-Bafana Bafana captain was murdered in 2014 while at his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo's Vosloorus home.

As the trial continues on Friday, these are some of the key arguments that were made at Thursday’s hearing.

FAILURE TO CONDUCT DUTIES

Opening proceedings, the lawyer of one of the five murder accused, Zandile Mshololo, wasted no time asking Sergeant Thabo Mosia whether he failed to do his job as “he did not take fingerprints or DNA swabs on the door handle of the main door where the alleged perpetrator is said to have used to gain entry inside the house.”

Mosia answered: “I did not fail, my lord.”

Mshololo then asked why he didn’t take any fingerprints, to which Mosia responded: “The crime scene was already under our control and I had to call the necessary people to come and assist with the crime scene.”

But he agreed that he did not take any fingerprints or DNA swabs of the door that the alleged suspect used to gain entry to the home.

THE KITCHEN COUNTER ‘NOT INVESTIGATED’

The defence went on to ask whether the police sergeant had investigated the kitchen counter where a bullet fragment was discovered. Mosia said that he conducted preliminary investigations upon arrival. But when he realised the weight of the case, he proceeded to contact the crime scene management task team to assist while he “only concentrated on the exhibits that were visible on the floor.”

“I further investigated [and saw that] there was nothing more I could do until the task team arrived and the only thing that I did was to secure the projectile and bullet fragment.”

Mosia said he left the crime scene to his senior, Brigadier Philani Ndlovu. who directed him to take pictures of the crime scene, which prompted the defence to again bring Mosia's capabilities into question. The defence proceeded to ask if Mosia had any certainty if any of the areas Ndlovu was taking pictures of were the correct ones. He said no, as he didn’t know. He said he did not take pictures of any other spots in the house that he did not receive instructions from Ndlovu to do so.

Mosia said he did not investigate the kitchen counter because the evidence was behind glass jars and also because he had not been instructed to investigate there.

‘I WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO START [WORKING] ON THAT CRIME SCENE’

The police sergeant added that he was not supposed to have started working on the crime scene because of how complex it was for him.

“I was supposed to have called the crime scene management team on the spot, after assessing the case. After noticing those exhibits on the floor, there was no way I could have waited for the task team [while] leaving the exhibit on the floor. I was making them safe and waited for the task team to arrive and continue with the crime scene.”

WHERE IS DISK WITH CRIME SCENE PHOTOS?

Mosia told the court that he took photos of the crime scene and completed a photo album. Asked where the pictures he took were stored, Mosia explained they were stored in a computer by the downloading clerk. He was then asked if that meant he had no control over the exhibits. Asked where the disk was, Mosia said that it was not in his possession as it was “booked out” by the provincial crime scene office in Johannesburg. The defence then asked if the original pictures were not at risk of being tampered with, Mosia responded and said: “We do have an exhibit clerk who works in an exhibit room", saying that the disk was stored safely there.

‘PLANTED’ BULLET JACKET?

The court heard from Mosia, who confessed that he had kept key exhibits in his safe at his office and did not declare them accordingly. A bullet jacket fragment that was recorded as an exhibit in Mosia’s trial of evidence was not recorded in his photo album. This he agreed and said this was because the crime had occurred over the weekend and the forensic office clerk would only be available the following Monday. However, the defence argued that the reason why he never recorded the exhibit was because it was “planted” at the crime scene. Mosia said he had no knowledge of this.