A SA Police Service (SAPS) ballistics expert has confirmed that a used cartridge has been found at Mdantsane’s Sisa Dukashe Stadium after Leader of the economic freedom fighters Julius Malema is said to have fired a pistol into the air during a meeting there in 2018, from one of the firearms seized by his bodyguard’s company.
Lieutenant Colonel Mandisi Mgwadleka took the position of the East London Magistrate’s Court on Monday as the trial of Malema, who is facing criminal charges along with his bodyguard Adriaan Snyman in connection with the incident, entered its third day.
He told the court he could have linked a used cartridge found by a cleaner after the rally to a Norinco rifle seized by Snyman’s company.
Malema is suspected of illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and violation of the Firearms Act. Meanwhile, Snyman, who allegedly gave the firearm to Malema, is charged with violating the Firearms Act and not taking reasonable precautions to avoid endangering one’s property.
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They both pleaded not guilty, with the defense ever since claiming that the firearm was, in fact, not real.
In the stands on Thursday, Mgwadleka, who is stationed at the Saps Eastern Cape forensic science lab in the ballistics section, told the court that he had been ordered to examine the used cartridge and discovered markings matching those left by either a semi-automatic or fully automatic assault rifle.
He also said he had been given several rifles seized by Snyman’s company, which he had used for test shots.
“I compared the casings of the test cartridge with the exhibition” [the spent cartridge found at the stadium] and compared the individual and cluster marks conveyed by the firearms components during the firing process using a comparison microscope,” he said.
And this, he added, had shown that the used cartridge found at the stadium had been fired by a Norinco from Snyman’s company.
Mgwadleka did say that not all the markings lined up, but he said that closer inspection revealed that the bridge block of the firearm in question had been switched at some point because its serial number and that of the gun did not match.
When asked by state attorney Joel Cesar whether this would have affected his investigation in any way, Mgwadleka replied in the negative.
“It didn’t affect the outcome, because despite the bridge block that didn’t come with this firearm, the firearm worked perfectly and I was still able to match the cartridge case I received to this particular firearm,” he said.
The trial against Malema continues today.
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