THE acting station commander of Henties Bay, Detective Warrant Officer Paula Havenga, testified in the Swakopmund Regional Court that the scene, where three members of a German family as well as three passengers in the vehicle driven by Jandré Dippenaar died, was graded over only hours after the horrific crash occurred.
Warrant Officer Havenga testified that she arrived on the scene of the crash after returning from Walvis Bay where she and a colleague delivered the remains of a little boy that was killed by a car earlier on 29 December 2014 at the police mortuary.
“When my colleague and I drove past Wlotzka Baken we saw dark smoke to the north. We speculated that the smoke might be from a fire on the Henties Bay rubbish dump but as we got closer to the scene we concluded that the smoke could only be caused by a burning car.”
Warrant Officer Havenga described the scene of the crash upon her arrival and stated that the white Toyota FJ Cruiser was burning furiously. She further testified that she saw quite a large gouge mark in the surface of the road with dark tyre marks close to the hole. She described the gouge mark and said it looked like somebody took a spade and chipped a large piece of the road surface away.
“I saw one injured person laying under a blanket with a woman I recognised from the earlier fatal accident in Henties Bay. I asked him if there were any other people with him in the vehicle that was burning and he answered ‘no’. I asked him what his name was and the woman kneeling next to him answered that she knows him as Jandré and that she is not sure what his surname was.”
She stated that she then went around the accident scene and asked bystanders if there were any eyewitnesses to the crash. Havenga stated that she spoke to two men named Oosthuizen and Maritz who described too her how the crash occurred. She said she collected their contact details to get statements from them at a later stage.
According to Havanga she and her colleagues put short metal poles with cordon tape around the gouge mark in the road. Because the scene of the accident was still an active crime scene traffic was diverted around the cordon tape and cones placed in the road.
Havenga said she then started taking pictures of the accident scene and later assisted members of the emergency services and police to clear up the road from wreckage and debris. She described how the bodies of the deceased persons were removed and placed in police vehicles and how she and her colleagues returned to the Henties Bay Police station to do the necessary administrative work and to report the accident to their superior officers.
“At around 21:00 that evening we drove to Walvis Bay to take the remains of the deceased persons to the police mortuary and the accident scene was as we left it. It was past midnight when we came back to Henties Bay and drove past the scene. I noticed that somebody used a grader to smooth out the road. I became angry because someone tampered with the accident scene and removed the metal poles and cordon tape before proper measurements could be taken for purposes of the investigation.”
Warrant Officer Havenga stated that she immediately called the Chief Executive Officer of the Municipality at the time to find out if the municipal grader was used to grade the road. She stated that he informed her that it was not within the municipal area and that it might have been done by someone else.
“I found out the next morning that a certain Victor who was in the employ of the Roads Contractor Company used a grader to smooth out the road.”
The detective testified that when she returned to the scene two days later with a scene of crime officer most of the gouge and tyre marks she saw on the day of the crash were no longer visible on the surface of the road.