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Malema, Ndlozi assault trial: Lawyer argues their car was authorised to enter the cemetery – News24
Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi's lawyer has cross-examined State witnesses.They are trying to prove their vehicle was accredited to enter

  • Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi's lawyer has cross-examined State witnesses.
  • They are trying to prove their vehicle was accredited to enter Fourways Memorial Park for the burial of Winnie  Madikizela-Mandela.
  • The politicians have pleaded not guilty to assaulting a police officer at the cemetery's entrance on 14 April 2018.

The State's witnesses in the assault trial against EFF leader Julius Malema and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi appeared to battle with the defence's argument that the accused's vehicle was part of a convoy and accredited to enter the Fourways Memorial Park at the funeral of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Malema and Ndlozi are on trial in the Randburg Magistrate's Court, where they stand accused of assaulting police officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Johannes Jacobus Venter, on 14 April 2018.

In October last year, the trial was a spectacle event, with scores of party supporters flocking the court's parking bay and streets.

But, on Tuesday, it was rather quiet, with a smaller group singing during Malema's arrival, and his exit after proceedings.

Despite his supporters' absence, SAPS, JMPD and other security personnel could be seen at the court.

Venter, who was attached to the Presidential Protection Service, previously testified that Malema and Ndlozi pushed him at the entrance when he tried stopping their vehicle from entering the premises.

He also told the court that the politician's vehicle was not part of the main convoy, which included the hearse, the family and other dignitaries - and that it did not have a "visible" accreditation.

The defence questioned witnesses, who worked on the premises on the day, about the accreditation processes and how exactly it was known that the politician's vehicle was not supposed to enter when, according to it, the vehicle was vetted and given a permit.

Malema and Ndlozi have pleaded not guilty.

Venter testified that the vehicle the duo were travelling in only arrived after the main convoy had arrived.

Two other witnesses on Tuesday, Deon Klingbiel and Lieutenant James Bronkhorst, also corroborated this stance, based on footage they had seen.

ICYMI | Malema, Ndlozi assault trial: CCTV footage at centre of testimony

Despite the witnesses testifying to this, defence lawyer Laurens Hodes was critical in his cross-examination. He did not leave a single aspect in his efforts to make the point that his clients were vetted and should never have been stopped at the entrance.

Klingbiel was the operations manager at the park and Bronkhorst is employed by SAPS, under the Presidential Protection Service, and was the section head in the incident management unit.

The court heard on Tuesday that Bronkhorst had asked Klingbiel for a copy of the CCTV footage, which he would use for internal investigations regarding the incident.

The court also heard that Klingbiel gave the investigating officer another copy and kept multiple copies of videos.

Bronkhorst told the court he was at the operations centre when vehicles arrived at the park. He said he saw the visuals of the proceedings from broadcast channel, eNCA, which aired on a television screen at the centre.

Hodes said:

I want to put it to you, if you were watching eNCA, you saw the [motorcade] of all the cars coming across from the stadium to the cemetery. And I want to put to you, and you will see, it's even on the video if you watch it, that not all of the cars were fancy BMWs and Mercedes'; there were other vehicles as well. And you will also see when they arrived at memorial park, the escorts stopped to the side and dignitaries receded forward.

But Bronkhorst said it was standard procedure for escorts to stop, and a convoy to proceed.

He took Bronkhorst through statements he had made to the police for purposes of the investigation and said one would conclude vehicles were allowed inside the cemetery - but Venter would have known, he replied.

"I don't have any knowledge if he had a list (with accredited vehicles). I did not have a list," Bronkhorst said.

But Hodes said: "So if there was no list of who had been accredited, then one cannot say this vehicle was not accredited to go into the cemetery. If the vehicle's accredited, and it's part of the convoy, do you agree with me that the complainant in this matter had no authority to stop this vehicle? Because such a vehicle would have been authorised and couldn't be stopped by him."

Hodes also questioned how the internal inquiry, which also looked at Venter's conduct, concluded without ascertaining whether Malema and Ndlozi's vehicle was authorised or not.

Struggling to answer the question, the officer said: "Your worship, I would agree, it was an oversight from my side. I will take responsibility."

Hodes said the entire docket did not answer the question of whether the vehicle was screened, which was strange.

Bronkhorst said, based on his experience in similar events, Venter acted in good faith and within his duties.

Hodes added:

I want to put to you, sir, that's not possible for you to make that conclusion if you have never bothered to verify whether, in truth and fact, this vehicle was authorised.

The State prosecutor, Yusuf Baba, is expected to re-examine Bronkhorst on Wednesday when the trial continues.

Malema and Ndlozi are out on warning.

ALSO READ | Malema, Ndlozi assault trial: 'You had no right to refuse them entrance,' lawyer tells cop

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