South Africa

FIVE IN THE DOCK

Soccer star Senzo Meyiwa’s murder – judge warns against trial delays, defence advocate berates State over ‘late’ documents

Soccer star Senzo Meyiwa’s murder – judge warns against trial delays, defence advocate berates State over ‘late’ documents
Soccer star Senzo Meyiwa was killed in Vosloorus nine years ago. (Photo: EPA / Barry Aldworth) Deceased South Africa soccer team captain, Senzo Meyiwa during a club soccer match, in Johannesburg, South Africa, 09 March 2013. (Photo: EPA/Barry Aldworth)

Five murder suspects were arrested on 26 October 2020, exactly six years after football star Senzo Meyiwa was killed in Vosloorus. Their trial entered week three this week, but proceedings stalled on Wednesday after advocate Zandile Mshololo, representing one of the co-accused, asked for more time to look at a docket she only received that morning.

‘Whatever I do or don’t do, I keep in mind that there are people in custody, there’s a family that buried their son and there’s a country that has lost a remarkable person.”

These were the remarks by the judge in the Pretoria High Court in the third week of the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial on Wednesday morning.

“This matter took forever to get to court and it would be unfair if it took forever to reach finalisation,” said Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela upon returning to the courtroom to postpone proceedings, after having left for 20 minutes.

Proceedings were postponed after advocate Zandile Mshololo told the court she couldn’t continue cross-examining forensic detective Thabo Mosia because the State had only given her another docket this morning. 

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“I can’t continue with my cross-examination without reading the entire docket,” said Mshololo. She berated the State for giving her documents late. 

“The person who has put this trial to shame is the State. We were made to plead without important information,” she said.

The state advocate, George Baloyi, pointed out that he had only received copies of the docket that morning. 

“The non-disclosure of this docket violates accused number five’s rights. This is also the second violation of his constitutional rights. There was the late disclosure of documents two weeks before the trial,” said Mshololo. 

The Senzo Meyiwa murder-accused in court on Tuesday, 7 June 2022. (Photo: Supplied)

In April, the case had to be postponed for a day because Mshololo had not received certain witness statements. 

Mshololo is representing Fisokuhle Ntuli. The other co-accused are Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube and Mthokoziseni Maphisa, who are being represented by advocate Dan Teffo. 

They are facing charges of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, possession of firearms without a licence and possession of ammunition.

The men were arrested on 26 October 2020, exactly six years after Meyiwa was murdered. 

Mshololo said it was important to engage with the documents she received before continuing her cross-examination because in them the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) in Gauteng recommended that Kelly Khumalo, her mother Gladness Khumalo, Zandile Khumalo, Longwe Twala, Mthokosizi Thwala, Tumelo Madlala and Maggie Phiri should be charged.

All of these people were with Meyiwa in Gladness’ Vosloorus home when Meyiwa was murdered in October 2014. 

The group made statements that two armed men walked in and robbed them of a Samsung S4 phone. 

Meyiwa, who was captain of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana, was allegedly shot trying to protect his girlfriend, Kelly. 

During cross-examination this week, Mshololo said a witness made a statement that Phiri had cleaned the Khumalo home before police arrived. 

According to the documents in Mshololo’s possession, the NDPP recommended that the people who were with Meyiwa when he was murdered be charged with murder and defeating the ends of justice. 

The courtroom was tense as Mshololo read out these names. After about five minutes of silence while Judge Maumela was taking notes, he left the courtroom. 

Some of the accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial leave the courtroom for a lunch break on Tuesday, 7 June 2022. (Photo: Supplied)

The courtroom was filled with about a dozen Department of Correctional Services officials, attorneys and AfriForum employees, including Barry Bateman, the organisation’s new spokesperson. AfriForum lawyer Gerrie Nel is holding a watching brief for Meyiwa’s mother, Irene. 

Teffo, who is representing four of the accused men, is holding a watching brief for Sifiso, Meyiwa’s brother. Sifiso has publicly said he does not believe that the arrested men murdered his brother.

Sifiso told City Press: “The people who are arrested aren’t involved. These policemen are trying to cover up for someone. They’re not interested in finding the truth. They know the truth. They just want to close this case.” 

In the Netflix documentary about Meyiwa’s death, Senzo: Murder of a Soccer Star, Sifiso says he didn’t trust the police working on his brother’s case.

Maumela postponed the case until Monday, 13 June. DM

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