Home South African 5 key events from the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial this week

5 key events from the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial this week

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The Senzo Meyiwa murder trial centred predominantly around one man this week, the former mineworker and murder accused Bongani Ntanzi.

Accused two in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, Bongani Ntanzi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena, African News Agency (ANA)

THE SENZO Meyiwa murder trial centred predominantly around one man this week, the former mineworker and murder accused Bongani Ntanzi.

The Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria was still holding a trial-within-a-trial to determine if alleged confessions made by Ntanzi and accused one, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, were made freely and voluntarily.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng is presiding over the murder trial of slain footballer Senzo Meyiwa, who was gunned down at the Vosloorus home of his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo on the evening of October 26, 2014.

The State believes that five accused – Sibiya, Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Ziphozonke Maphisa and Fisokuhle Nkani Ntuli – were responsible for the murder of the former captain and goalkeeper of Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates.

Ntanzi has already been pointed out by at least two witnesses as one of the two gunmen who entered the Khumalo household in October 2014.

These are they key events of the past week in court:

Unlawful Audio Recording

Judge Mokgoatlheng ruled on Friday that the audio recording of Ntanzi’s alleged confession that was made by Magistrate Vivienne Cronje using her work-issued laptop, infringed on his constitutional rights as he had not consented to being recorded during the taking of the confession. The magistrate would have also had to warn Ntanzi that the recording could be used against him in a court of law.

Magistrate Cronje had administered the alleged confession on June 24, 2020, eight days after Ntanzi had been arrested.

It was a significant victory for Ntanzi, the defence and the accused, as the recording contained potentially incriminating evidence which is not available on the written proforma confession.

Under the common purpose doctrine, one accused can implicate all the other accused if common purpose is proven.

The State had initially not intended to use the recording, but made a swift U-turn during the week and made an application for the recording to be utilised.

Defence advocate Zandile Mshololo, who represents accused 5, Ntuli, told the court this week that there was incriminating evidence in the Ntanzi recording and that the court should not listen to the recording as it was obtained unlawfully, while State advocate George Baloyi described the recording as “the best evidence”.

The defence succeeded in keeping the audio. The court cannot listen to nor rely on the audio recording during the proceedings.

Dominic Who?

The squashing of the audio recording has undoubtedly presented a new dynamic in the trial-within-a-trial.

In another twist presented by the defence after securing victory that the audio recording cannot be used in the trial, advocate Thulani Mngomezulu said that according to Ntanzi, Mjiyakho was never present at the confession, did not represent him nor did he know who he was.

Magistrate Cronje also told the court that she did not make a copy of Mjiyakho’s fiduciary federal certificates and that he did not sign the alleged confession or supporting proforma documents.

Simply put, advocate Mngomezulu has argued that there is no evidence that shows that Mjiyakho was present nor evidence that shows that he represented Ntanzi as his attorney during the confession.

Magistrate Cronje said the interpreter would confirm that Mjiyakho was present.

“He (Ntanzi) signed in front of his lawyer (Mjiyakho) and the interpreter. The interpreter as well as the legal representative can attest to that if you are now disputing that,” she said.

Severe torture

Ntanzi’s defence advocate Mngomezulu says he was severely assaulted by police officers at four different locations before the alleged confession was made.

Magistrate Cronje testified in her evidence in chief that she was told by Ntanzi on June 24, 2020, that he had been arrested on June 16, 2020.

Said Mngomezulu: “My instruction is to tell you that he was subjected to severe torture at four different locations before he was brought to you to make that confession”.

Magistrate Cronje, in cross-examination, said Ntanzi told her he had not been assaulted and only pointed to old scars and wounds.

He also mentioned an old heart problem.

Ntanzi did not sign confession

Another spanner in the works thrown by Mngomezulu alleges that Ntanzi did not sign or initial any of the pages of his alleged confession.

“He has never or did not attach any initials and he did not sign any statement in front of you,” said Mngomezulu.

This was dismissed as an “absolute lie” by Magistrate Cronje, who said Ntanzi signed on Page 8 of the pro forma confession statement.

“The signature on page 8 is in dispute. The accused left that office without appending his signature to any of the documents that were in front of him,” Mngomezulu told the court.

Unlawful Detention

Another issue that has been raised by advocate Mngomezulu was that Ntanzi was unlawfully detained for weeks without appearing in court.

The court heard this week that Ntanzi was arrested on June 16, 2020, and he appeared before Magistrate Cronje for the alleged confession on June 24, 2020.

“The police called me and asked me if I know of Senzo Meyiwa’s death. I was arrested on the 16th, I didn’t see or understand what was going on.

“I didn’t understand when I was supposed to appear in court. If one is arrested, they are supposed to come to court. I called my attorney and I told him I want to come to court”.

This is what Ntanzi had apparently relayed to Magistrate Cronje.

Advocate Mngomezulu said it was his instruction that Ntanzi only appeared in court for the first time on October 26, 2020, about three and a half months after his initial arrest.

Mngomezulu also asked Magistrate Cronje if she had ascertained if Ntanzi had been charged, and she said she did not ask him.

The cross-examination of Magistrate Cronje continues on Monday.

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