Details of how police were able to tap into conversations between the men accused of three gang-related murders were laid bare in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday.
Testifying in the case against suspected gang kingpin Wendell Petersen, 30, and four others, Colonel Johannes Deetlefs, of the police crime intelligence unit, told how the police obtained authority to intercept calls made between certain cellphone numbers.
Petersen, 30, Jermaine “Dolf” Mitchell, 30, Glynn “Boudt/Holland” Carelson, 30, Robin “Milo” Taylor, 21 and Graham “Gram” Kammies, 35, are all charged with three counts of murder.
Other charges include three counts of conspiracy to commit murder, four of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The men, all suspected members of the Dustlifes gang, allegedly went on a killing spree on September 14, 2015 – killing Theodore “Tupac” Matthews, Rajen Naidoo and Jermain “Jabilo” Essau, all at different times and locations.
It is alleged the accused had been in communication with each other on the day of the killings, some monitoring the victims’ movements while others committed the murders.
On Monday, lawyers for the accused requested documents showing the applications and authorisations for intercepting calls between the accused.
Yesterday, prosecutor Munjaahib Sandan handed out documents to the lawyers so that they could consult with their clients.
Deetlefs said there were structures in the police which allowed for any officer to make use of the Interception of Communication Act.
“Any investigating officer who wishes to make use of [it] can apply via their provincial co-ordinator,” Deetlefs said.
The application would then be sent to Pretoria for the national coordinator to inspect before the application, with an accompanying affidavit, was presented to a judge who could order the interception.
“There is only one judge in the country who can approve [this] type of application,” he said.
Deetlefs said the investigation must be of such a nature that it would convince the judge to grant permission to intercept communications.
Only after permission was granted could the investigating officer request service providers – Vodacom or MTN – to provide information.
Intercepted communications include voicemails and SMSes.
The trial continues.