The two police officers accused of killing Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student Katlego Monareng claim they are innocent, despite evidence proving the bullet that killed him was from one of their weapons.
John Slender, 40, and Joseph Rapoo, 51, appeared in the Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court yesterday on charges of murder and attempted murder.
They are accused of firing R-5 rifles at protesting students at the university’s north campus in August, hitting Monareng, who died on his way to hospital, and wounding another student.
Students from various political affiliations fought their way through public order police officers to enter the courtroom. An eerie silence fell when Slender and Rapoo walked into the dock with their heads covered in hoodies.
The officers, a constable and captain respectively at the Soshanguve police station, were arrested on Monday following weeks of investigations.
They told the court they both intended to plead not guilty.
In an affidavit read by attorney Molebogeng Maake, Slender – a father of three minors – said he believed he was innocent.
“I have never been charged or found guilty of any misconduct. I have been informed of having committed offences of murder and attempted murder while on duty… I intend to plead not guilty as the state has a weak case against me.”
He requested bail, saying he was a breadwinner and not in “excellent health”, being on medication for tuberculosis.
In an affidavit read by attorney Monty Malebye, Rapoo said he was willing to stand trial to “clear his name”.
“The facts here will clearly exonerate me,” he said.
The state believes it has a “strong case”, state prosecutor Sifiso Hlongwane argued.
“The bullet found on the body matched the gun of [Slender] and … he got instructions from [Rapoo].”
The state did not oppose bail, as the officers were employed by the South African Police Service and were not a flight risk.
They were released on R2 000 bail each, to reappear on January 25, 2019.
The officers are facing internal departmental processes, Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said.
“They have been removed from the operational duties pending the outcome.”