Mammoth week for Dippenaar

Someone had tampered with the crash scene between Swakopmund and Henties Bay where six people died, a senior police officer has testified.

12 July 2019 | Justice

The murder trial of Jandré Dippenaar restarted on Monday in the Swakopmund Regional Court with Brian Low, the managing director of private ambulance service Lifelink, taking the stand.

Dippenaar faces six counts of murder, driving without a valid driver's licence and reckless driving related to a crash that killed six people between Henties Bay and Swakopmund on 29 December 2014.

Low, who regularly drives between the two towns, told the court that there is a blind rise at the crash site.

This statement is in stark contrast to Dippenaar's testimony. Since the start of the trial, his counsel, Advocate Louis Botes, has been trying to prove that there is no elevation at the accident scene and that the crash was caused by the German family driving the Ford Ranger bakkie.

Dippenaar is accused of having overtaken several vehicles and causing a head-on collision at high speed. He was at the wheel of a Toyota FJ Cruiser in which JC Horn (27), Dinah Pretorius (30) and Charlene Schoonbee (24) were killed. In the other vehicle, the Ford Ranger, the Joschko family, on holiday in Namibia, was travelling in the direction of Swakopmund. Of the family of four only the youngest daughter, Antonia Joschko, survived.

Low told the court he had been informed of the accident by telephone on that day at 17:11 and had arrived at the scene six minutes later with a reaction vehicle. The FJ Cruiser was still on fire, he said. In the Ford Ranger, he detected a pulse in one victim, Alexandra Marlene Joschko (19).

“We could not free her from the wreckage,” said Low. When the Henties Bay fire department arrived shortly afterwards, attempts were made with the Jaws of Life.

“The many spectators hindered our work and our attempts failed,” he continued. “She died shortly thereafter.”

Regarding the cause of the crash, Low did not comment. He only said that the scene of the accident was very “deceptive”. Coming from Henties Bay, one would not immediately notice that the road suddenly “falls away” and the view is blocked. Coming from Swakopmund, the rise is “clearly visible”.

On Wednesday, senior police investigator Paula Havenga took the stand. Havenga, who has been a police investigator for 30 years and has been based in Henties Bay since 2004, investigated the accident.

She told the court that she was driving from Walvis Bay to Henties Bay. When she arrived at the crash scene, the FJ Cruiser was still on fire. She said she saw Dippenaar lying near the car and asked him if anyone was still in it.

“He answered no,” she said, adding that she was worried because the car was still burning.

After the fire was extinguished, she saw the three burned bodies in the FJ Cruiser. She proceeded to transport the bodies to two hearses, after which towing services removed the wrecks from the road.

“I marked important evidence on the road with iron pegs and marked off the scene with tape. We then left the scene to transport the bodies to Walvis Bay,” Havenga testified.

She said she returned to the scene shortly after midnight and was “shocked” to find that her marks and pegs had been removed and the road had been graded, just hours after the accident.

All traces and other markings on the road surface, which would be required for the accident reconstruction, were obliterated.

“Someone manipulated the evidence,” Havenga testified.

She said she called the Henties Bay municipality the next day and was informed that no one had been instructed to grade the road.

Daniel Lange, transport head of the Erongo Region police, testified on Wednesday that he had not given any such instruction and did not know who was responsible.

The matter before Magistrate Gaynor Poulton has been set down for the entire week. Dippenaar is defended by Advocate Louis Botes, instructed by Petrie Theron. The prosecution is represented by Ethel Ndlovu and Faith Chipepera-Nyaungwa.



ERWIN LEUSCHNER

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