An experienced diver told the High Court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court that even a good swimmer would experience challenges at the Rhodes Park lake where two men drowned after they were attacked by a group of men.
“Even if they had the ability to swim, the lake’s condition is not favourable because of the debris under the water. There is also zero visibility, when you are inside the water you won’t be able to see the sun or the moon, it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is,” said Maria Pollock.
Pollock was testifying in the trial of Thabo Nkala (25), Mduduzi Mathibela Lawrence (32), and Admore Ndlovu (23) who are accused of being part of a gang of men who attacked two couples at the park.
The gang attacked the couples, tied up the men and threw them into a lake, where they drowned. One of the women was sexually assaulted, while the other was raped.
Pollock explained to the court by drawing a sketch to elaborate how they conducted the search for the bodies of the men. In her explanation, she said they went through three phases of the search before they found the bodies.
“Approximately 30 minutes into my dive, I stumbled across the first victim, I held on to the body and swam him out of the water. About eight minutes into my second dive I found the second body, I can say they were three metres apart from each other.”
She explained that when she recovered the bodies, the victims limbs were not tied but they were half dressed.
“The first body had a shirt on and nothing else, the second body had a shirt, underpants and a jersey tied around his waist.”
Pollock said she wasn’t sure of the exact times the bodies were found but the first body might have been found around 22h45 and the last victim was recovered at 22h55.
Judge Papi Masopa asked Pollock if the search was easy or if it was difficult.
“It was a very challenging search, the depth of the water, the debris and the darkness of the water.”
She said underneath the water there was mud, debris, bottles, glasses and tyres.
“There’s also a sudden drop of water which will take away the grip of the feet and shock anyone in this condition,” Pollock explained.
After her testimony she sat next to one of the counsellors present at the trial and gave her a hug.
During her testimony, Nkala and Mathibela stared at her intently while Ndlovu kept his head down the entire time.
The three men have been charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape and murder. They are believed to be part of the gang of men who attacked the two women and their husbands who were taking a stroll at the park on October 17 last year.
Nkala, Mathibela and Ndlovu pleaded not guilty to all charges. They are expected to appear in court again on November 7.
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