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Witness has a fit

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FACING: The accused who are standing trial for the murder of Xolile Macala.

PROCEEDINGS at the Northern Cape High Court came to an abrupt halt yesterday after the main witness in a murder trial had a fit and had to be escorted to hospital for medical attention.

The 17-year-old girl, who is the main witness in the murder trial of Zamani Mbatha, Sylvester Ephraim, Christelle van der Westhuizen and Tessa Mbothibi, was testifying via closed-circuit television when she asked the court for a second adjournment.

Crying throughout most of her cross-examination, the girl told the court that she was experiencing cramps. A few minutes later she had a fit.

She was transported to hospital for medical treatment by emergency services.

The incident happened after Judge Cecille Williams granted the first adjournment, also requested by the witness, who indicated that she was too emotional to carry on with cross-examination by one of the defence lawyers, Kenny Pretorius.

The four accused are standing trial for the murder Xolile Macala, who died after being set alight in a shack on the night of April 30/early hours of May 1 last year.

They are facing charges of theft, murder and arson.

Pretorius’ cross-examination came to an end shortly after he attempted to question the witness about the events on the night of the incident.

The witness repeatedly indicated to the court that she was afraid of the accused, which was the reason why she had requested that she be allowed to testify via closed-circuit television.

She also said that she did not feel well when talking about the events of the night.

Pretorius pointed out to the witness that she had never told the court during her evidence-in-chief, which was delivered in November last year, that she was afraid of the accused.

The witness told the court that one of the accused had threatened to kill her if she ever spoke about the incident, but Pretorius pointed out that this was the first time that she had made it known that she was afraid of the accused.

He said that the fact that the witness declined an offer to go into witness protection was an indication that she was not scared of the accused.

“It does not make sense that you were threatened on May 3 yet on May 19, when you were offered witness protection by the police, you declined the offer.

“On November 30, you testified in open court but indicated that you were not feeling well. The court proceedings had to be adjourned at that time. When court continued, you again indicated that you had cramps and the matter was postponed. The next day, on December 1, you again could not continue your testimony and you were transported to hospital by ambulance after you again said you were not well. You were pregnant at that stage and you were checked to determine whether the baby was all right. The court knew at that stage that you could not continue as you were pregnant. At no stage did you indicate that you are unable to continue because of your fear of the accused. If you were truly afraid of the accused why did you testify in an open court,” asked Pretorius.

Pretorius argued that the witness was not telling the truth about being afraid of the accused.

The case was postponed until today.