Defence casts doubt over S.African extremist’s murder
Lawyers for two black farmworkers accused of killing South African white supremacist Eugene Terre'Blanche highlighted police bungles that destroyed evidence, as final arguments wrapped up Thursday.
The two workers — Chris Mahlangu and a teenager, then aged 28 and 15 — are accused of beating to death the co-founder of the white-extremist Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) on April 3, 2010.
Both have pleaded not guilty to bludgeoning to death Terre’Blanche in his farmhouse outside the northwestern town of Ventersdorp.
The teenager denies any involvement. Mahlangu says he acted in self-defence and claimed that Terre’Blanche had raped him.
Advocate Norman Arendse told the court that the claims of sexual abuse could not be verified because investigators never collected semen off his body, seen in police photographs.
“The substance itself could never be subjected to forensic investigation so that the true identity and source may be identified with some degree of certainty,” said Arendse.
A mortuary worker testified during the trial that the semen might have been wiped off by the bodybag.
Arendse further painted Terre’Blanche a racist who abused his workers, and rejected prosecutors’ claim that the murder was motivated by a pay dispute.
“Both the accused are illiterate, innumerate and come from impoverished backgrounds. For them abuse is a daily occurrence and is accepted as part of their daily lives,” said Arendse.
Judge John Horn has already ruled most evidence against the teenager inadmissable because police failed to follow South Africa’s child protection law in handling the case.
Prosecutors have already acknowledged that it is unlikely they can win a conviction against the teenager.
Judgment is expected May 22.
The trial has run for more than two years after the murder that revived memories of the darkest days of the apartheid era. Since then, the case has largely faded from public discussion in South Africa.