AGE OF THE ASSASSIN
Three plead not guilty to murder of advocate Pete Mihalik
The State wasted no time getting down to business in the trial of the three men accused of murdering advocate Pete Mihalik, digging immediately into the merits of the case.
In the Western Cape Cape High High Court on Thursday, Sizwe Biyela, Nkosinathi Khumalo and Vuyile Maliti pleaded not guilty to five counts relating to the murder of advocate Pete Mihalik in Cape Town in October 2018.
Appearing before Judge Noluthando Nziweni, they face one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, one count of the illegal possession of a 9mm firearm and one count of the illegal possession of ammunition.
It is the State’s contention that the three acted together to carry out the murder of Mihalik on 30 October 2018. Mihalik was gunned down as he was about to drop off his daughter at the Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard school in Green Point.
Biyela, who allegedly fired the fatal shot, was represented by lawyer Louise Luterek, and Khumalo and Maliti were represented by advocates Justin van Rensburg and Cronje Kriel, respectively. The State’s case was led by advocate Greg Wolmarans.
Because of the serious nature of the case and previous threats made against legal representatives in the matter, the court ordered that no pictures of the legal representatives or the prosecutor be published in the media.
Luterek and Kriel informed the court that their clients would not be presenting any plea explanations.
Although Maliti also opted not to submit a plea explanation, Kriel told the court: “My client’s presence at the crime scene won’t be disputed. My client wants to make the following admissions: that before and on the day of the incident he has been in contact with the accused and that Biyela requested him to sell gold coins. That will be put into more detail at a later stage.”
The gold coins were first raised at the trio’s bail application in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court in July 2019. The State, in its heads of arguments, said: “Maliti exchanged 11 Krugerrands for R200,000 in Claremont shortly after the murder, presumably as partial payment for the job.”
The first witness called by the State was senior traffic officer Boy Makutu, employed by the City of Cape Town. His evidence placed Khumalo and Maliti in the vicinity of the murder on the day it took place.
On 30 October 2018, at about 6am, Makutu arrived for duty at the Gallows Hill Traffic Department in Sea Point. Later, he left the premises to attend training elsewhere. As he approached the four-way stop at Ebenezer Road and Prestwich Street, Green Point, he noticed a Renault Clio and a silver-grey VW Polo failing to stop at the intersection.
Makutu turned on his flashing blue light and siren, pursued the two vehicles and signalled the drivers to pull over. Makutu manoeuvred his traffic vehicle between the two vehicles and the two drivers pulled over.
At that time, Makutu did not know that the two cars had allegedly been used in a murder and that Khumalo and Maliti were suspects.
Makutu’s interaction with the drivers while issuing traffic fines lasted for almost an hour. This is how that interaction unfolded:
- Makutu asked the driver of the VW Polo, Maliti, to present his driver’s licence. With him in the car was a male passenger. After confirming his licence and number plate, Makutu issued a traffic fine and gave Maliti the right of way to drive off;
- While busy with Maliti, Makutu saw the driver of the Renault Clio, Khumalo, drive away;
- However, Khumalo came walking back later. Makutu told him to ask the second driver of the Renault Clio to return to the scene. To issue a fine the traffic officer required the registration number of the car;
- After an hour waiting for the Renault Clio, Makutu took Khumalo to the Sea Point police station and asked that he be detained until the driver returned with the car;
- While at the police station, Makutu heard about Mahilik’s murder on his two-way radio. The traffic officer stayed with Khumalo until a detective arrived to arrest Khumalo.
Makutu’s version corroborated part of the State’s indictment, placing Maliti and Khumalo in the vicinity of the crime scene.
According to the indictment and pictures from video footage used by the State, Biyela was the person who shot Mihalik in the head at point-blank range.
The trial resumes on Monday. DM