2166_Judgment - Prinsloo v The State.doc

13 the appellants friends ms blaauw and ms botha

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[13] The appellant’s friends, Ms Blaauw and Ms Botha, testified in support of his evidence. I find it expedient to deal with their versions together as their evidence is essentially the same. They both described the appellant as calm during the incident and imputed offensive and aggressive behaviour to the second State witness Ms Ayanda. They testified that all three State witnesses swore at the appellant. They denied emphatically that the appellant uttered the words he was accused of. Importantly, they said that Ms Zintle uttered derogatory words to the effect that they should ‘Leave the mother fuckers alone’. Ms Blaauw further testified that the appellant was calm and was verbally attacked for no reason. However, her evidence contradicts the evidence tendered by the appellant, in which he admitted that he was angry. [14] In this court the main thrust of the appellant’s contention was that the Magistrate misdirected herself in that she failed to specifically mention in her judgement that she had considered the credibility of the each of the witnesses. It was contended that in so doing she had adopted a piecemeal approach to the evaluation of the evidence. In my view, this contention is misplaced. Although the Magistrate did not explicitly state that she considered the credibility of each of the witnesses, it is clear from her judgment as a whole, that in arriving at her conclusion, she had had regard to the credibility of the witnesses. On the contrary, the record reveals that the Magistrate made a proper assessment and analysis of all the evidence by, amongst other things, weighing the strength and the weaknesses of the state’s case vis-à-vis that of the appellant, including the probabilities and improbabilities of both 6
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versions of events. It is axiomatic that an examination of the probabilities is not done in vacuum . Such an exercise requires an analysis and evaluation of the evidence as a whole. See S v M 2006 (1) SACR 135 (SCA) para 189. [15] An attempt was made to discredit Ms Zintle on the basis that she deviated from her statement to the police. In my view, the alleged discrepancies are not material and cannot affect the probative value of the evidence of the State witnesses. To expect witnesses to remember and recall their evidence verbatim appears to me to be irrational. The criticism levelled against Ms Zintle’s statement is baseless because on the evidence of Ms Saayman, the statement was taken in a hurry. To my mind this implies that Ms Zintle had little time to consider her statement. This explains why the same statement was altered the next day. It is not unreasonable to assume that she was seriously traumatised by this unfortunate incident. It would be unrealistic to expect her to give a lucid and coherent account of the events shortly after the incident. Furthermore, Ms Zintle, who was a minor at the time, was allowed to depose to a statement without the support or guidance of her parent or legal guardian. In all likelihood she did not intend this statement to replace the evidence which she would give in a subsequent trial. In short, the making of a statement is not the same as giving evidence in court, where in many instances crucial evidence only will only come to light through cross- examination. I find the criticism against her evidence to be without substance.
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