South Africa

IN THE DOCK

‘When a shot was fired, I ran to the bedroom’ — Senzo Meyiwa’s friend recalls how fatal shooting unfolded

‘When a shot was fired, I ran to the bedroom’ — Senzo Meyiwa’s friend recalls how fatal shooting unfolded
The five men, Mthobisi Mncube, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Ntanzi, Mthokoziseni Maphisa, and Fisokuhle Ntuli, charged with the murder of Senzo Meyiwa, in the Pretoria High Court on 14 June 2022 (Photo: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)

Meyiwa’s best friend Tumelo Madlala told the Pretoria High Court that he heard people in the house calling Meyiwa’s name. He had been shot. Droplets of blood were coming from a tiny hole in his left arm.

Tumelo Madlala, the best friend of the late Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, was one of the people in the Vosloorus house where Meyiwa was killed during an apparent botched robbery eight years ago.  

Taking the stand on Tuesday, giving an account of what transpired on the fateful day, Madlala broke down and asked for a short break. Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela later ordered an early adjournment of the proceedings.

On Wednesday, he was relatively calm.

State prosecutor George Baloyi asked Madlala if he could recognise any of the five men accused of the botched robbery.

The accused are Fisokuhle Ntuli, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube and Mthokoziseni Maphisa. All five face charges of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, possession of firearms without a licence and possession of ammunition.

Madlala asked if he recognised any of the accused from the night and without hesitation he responded, “If I was allowed to mention it yesterday, I was prepared to, hence I asked for that break yesterday; what annoyed me was to be in the same room as that person.”

The revelation was a source of contention. Advocate Zandile Mshololo, representing Ntuli, accused the State of using ambush tactics in a bid to have Madlala identify an accused in court.

This was as the attorney representing four of the accused, TT Thabane, said the State’s attempt to have a trial within a trial would not hold water, as he made reference to a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment of 2019.

Maumela ruled that Baloyi furnished both defence attorneys with heads of arguments to eliminate the element of ambush and indicate how the court would proceed thereafter.    

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Senzo Meyiwa murder trial judge grumbles about time-wasting on ‘side issues’ ”

Madlala earlier admitted that after Meyiwa’s death, all those who were in the house were individually called to an identity parade where; “I didn’t point to anyone because I could not recognise anyone from the people that entered the house…”  

Longtime friend

Madlala, originally from Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal, said he had been friends with Meyiwa for as long as he could remember.

Years later, Meyiwa was recruited by Orlando Pirates and moved to Johannesburg. Despite the move, Madlala said they kept in constant communication. Meyiwa often called him seeking advice, even visiting him in Johannesburg.   

Madlala said Meyiwa had asked him to come to Johannesburg and to wait at a particular off-ramp where he would pick him up.

On arrival, driving his BMW X6, he was with his girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo, her sister Zandile, with her boyfriend Longwe Twala, and another friend. 

He said they bought drinks and went to Khumalo’s home and were to attend a party later. 

Robbery

Hours after they had enjoyed a meal together, Madlala recalled how they saw a gun-wielding man suddenly enter the house. Moments later a second man entered the house. According to Madlala, the men demanded cellphones and money, but were met with resistance.

The Khumalo family fought the first man, while Meyiwa wrestled with the second man, pinning him against a wall. Longwe Twala wrestled and pushed one of the men, then exited the house and did not return, according to Madlala.  

Gunshot  

A shot was then fired, prompting everyone to run for their lives. He said he ran to the nearest bedroom and hid his phone. Meyiwa’s daughter, Thingo, was reportedly in the same room.

“When a shot was fired, I ran to the bedroom.”

Madlala said he later heard the people in the house calling Meyiwa’s name. He had been shot. Droplets of blood were coming from a tiny hole in his left arm, he told the court.

Probed on the number of gunshots fired, Madlala said he did not recall, as he felt as if his ears were almost blocked after the first one was fired.  

Quizzed about Twala Longwe’s whereabouts after the killing, Madlala said he never returned.

“I was fighting with Longwe at the police station. I asked him why he did not give those guys [robbers] the phones… Longwe said he ran outside to look for backup.” 

Hospital 

On arrival at the Botshelong Hospital, Madlala said they requested a stretcher, but were given a wheelchair. Meyiwa was then admitted.  

Shortly after that, a nurse came and asked to speak to an older person. “She told us that Senzo had passed away and everyone started crying.” The trial continues on Thursday. DM

Gallery

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