Windhoek — The first accused in the trial of three City Police cops accused of beating a 17-year-old suspect to death testified in his own defense yesterday before Judge Dinah Usiku in the Windhoek High Court.
Johannes Shetekela Werner, 34, narrated his version of the events of the night that it is alleged he and two other City cops kidnapped 17-year-old Mandela Ramakhutla and continuously assaulted the juvenile while driving around with him handcuffed, thereby causing his death eight days later in the Katutura Hospital.
Werner and Kleopas Shiikalepo Kapalanga, 30, the second accused and 34-year-old Elia Nakale are charged with the murder of Ramakhutla and face further charges of kidnapping and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
All three pleaded not guilty to all charges at the start of their trial.
Yesterday, Werner testified that he and Nakale were on standby duty on the night in question when they received a call from Kapalanga that a suspect in the theft of a laptop was seen at local bar in Katutura. He and Kapalanga then proceeded to the bar and recognised Ramakhutla from the description given by Nakale.
They approached him and Kapalanga identified himself as a City Police officer and informed Ramakhutla he was wanted in connection with a case of theft of laptops at the City of Windhoek head office. They further told him that they have a video of him and that he should accompany them to inspect the video.
They then took him to the City Police dispatch centre in Wanaheda, where Nakale was waiting for them. After Nakale showed Ramakhutla the video, he admitted that it was him and a friend from Swakopmund in the video, but denied they stole the laptop and said he was only at the City headoffice to buy electricity for his grandmother.
"We did not believe him and asked him where he lives, upon which he answered that he lives with his grandmother," Werner told the court. He said Ramakhutla then agreed to take them to his grandmother's house, but when they arrived there a young woman who opened the door denied that Ramakhutla lived there. She said he lived with his father.
He further said the grandmother of the deceased also came out and told Kapalanga who did all the talking that she did not live with "botsotsos" and that they must go look at his father's place. He denied the grandmother's testimony that she saw Ramakhutla at the back of their pick-up vehicle and that his head was swollen and he could barely talk.
"The old woman and the young woman both remained inside their house speaking to Kapalanga through the burglar bar door," Werner insisted. He went on to say they then drove to the father's residence, but did not find him there and the people there told them that Ramakhutla did not live there, but was renting a room in Wanaheda.
After enquiring from Ramakhutla where his room was, he indicated it was in Mercy Street, but he was just wasting their time and they decided to take him to Windhoek Police Station to detain him. Werner maintained that Ramakhutla was still healthy and walking on his own when they dropped him off at the police station.
The next morning, Werner said, they returned to the police station to profile Ramakhutla and heard that he was in hospital. He remained steadfast in his evidence that neither he, nor his co-accused, assaulted Ramakhutla.
The case continues today with Werner under cross-examination from State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi. Boris Isaacks represents Werner, Willem Visser acts for Kapalanga and Kadhila Amoomo for Nakale, all private instructions through the City of Windhoek. All three accused men are out on bail.