Judge Papi Masopa said prosecution had a prima facie case against them to which they should answer.
PRETORIA – The man dubbed, among others, Mamelodi’s No 1 Tsotsi, Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela and his co-accused received a blow in their prosecution on murder and attempted murder charges for the alleged assassination of billionaire businessman Wandile Bozwana, when the court turned down their applications to be acquitted.
Judge Papi Masopa, sitting in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Friday turned down an application by the four accused for a discharge. The judge made it clear that they will be put to their defence regarding the incident in October 2015, when Bozwana died after he was hit by several bullets.
His partner, Mpho Baloyi, was injured when two gunmen opened fire at them as they stopped their car at a traffic light at the Garsfontein offramp, off the N1 highway.
Baloyi managed to drive on, although she was severely injured, to get help. Bozwana died shortly afterwards in hospital.
It is claimed that Mathibela and his three co-accused Sipho Hudla, Matamela Robert Mutapa and Bonginkosi Paul Khumalo, acted in a common purpose in killing Bozwana and attempting to kill Baloyi.
It is claimed that Mathibela’s co-accused acted on his instructions to kill Bozwana.
The prosecution’s case is that all four accused were at Sandton City at the same time as Bozwana and that they followed his movements.
Video footage from the mall was presented to the court, where one of the accused was identified as “watching” Bozwana and Baloyi while they did shopping and did their nails at a salon.
While the footage is unclear, a facial recognition expert testified that he could identify some of the other accused via their body language and clothes.
Footage also showed that Mathibela was present that day at the nearby Nelson Mandela Square, which he did not deny. He and the other accused, however, maintained that they knew nothing about the incident, nor did they follow Bozwana and Baloyi to Pretoria.
They asked the court to acquit them, as there was no direct evidence linking them to the assassination. The court could not produce eyewitnesses who could identify the shooters, although one witness did see a gunman from afar firing at the vehicle.
There was also no DNA evidence which linked the accused.
Cellphone experts who analysed their phones, however found that three of the four accused’s phones were at some stage in the vicinity of the incident that day.
While the experts could only testify that the cellphone towers had picked up the handsets belonging to each accused, it could not be established who was holding the phone at the time.
Hudla also made a so-called confession, in which he implicated Mathibela and his two other co-accused. Hudla was, however, adamant that he was forced to make a confession about something he knew nothing about.
Judge Masopa, in turning down their applications to be freed at this stage – after the state has closed its case – said the prosecution had a prima facie case against them to which they should answer.
The trial will resume on October 18.