Criminal trial of four men, among them Vusi ’Khekhe’ Mathibela still dragging on
Pretoria – Billionaire businessman Wandile Bozwana died nearly six years ago when he was gunned down on the N1 highway, at the Garsfontein offramp in Pretoria East.
However, the criminal trial of the four men, among them the widely-feared Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela − believed to be responsible for the hit − is still dragging on.
The case has been before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria since March 2018 and it had to be postponed a number of times to make way for other cases on the roll over the years.
But it is now expected that that the high-profile murder trial will eventually be concluded within the next few weeks. The prosecution is expected to wrap-up its evidence within the next day or two with the technical evidence of two cellphone company employees.
The trial was due to resume on Wednesday, but due to a power outage in the city centre the matter stood down to Thursday.
An employee of MTN is due to conclude his evidence, after which a Vodacom counterpart will take the stand. Their evidence is of a technical nature and pertains to the workings of caller identification data.
The defence is said to be contemplating calling one of the state witnesses back for further questioning, but it is not clear at this stage which witness it is.
Mathibela, once dubbed Mamelodi’s No 1 Tsotsi by Police Minister Bheki Cele for his alleged reign of terror on the township, along with Sipho Hudla, Matamela Robert Mutapa and Bonginkosi Paul Khumalo are expected to take the stand next week to defend the murder and attempted murder charges against them.
They all earlier pleaded not guilty to Bozwana’s October 2015 murder and the attempted murder of his business partner, Mpho Baloyi.
Mathibela, who was out on bail in the Bozwana matter, is meanwhile awaiting trial in custody after he was arrested in 2019 on charges of extortion, assault and intimidation. He was accused of extorting money from the Mamelodi business community.
He is alleged to have run a Mafia-style operation in the township, reigning over a criminal ring which preyed on businesses big and small, hijacking buildings and terrorising the taxi industry into paying for protection and to use routes in and around Mamelodi.
His alleged acts reached the attention of authorities and Cele, who branded him Mamelodi’s most wanted and vowed to catch him.
Bozwana was shot nine times after one gunman fired several times at him while he was a passenger in Baloyi’s car. Another gunman opened fire at her, but the wounded woman managed to drive off and obtain help at a nearby glass fit outlet.
Bozwana died shortly afterwards in the Unitas Hospital.
The trial in the high court started in 2018 where a large screen was erected in court to display CCTV footage. This captured the movements of Bozwana and Baloyi that day in Sandton City.
They had gone to a shoe store to buy a belt for Bozwana, and also visited a hair and nail salon, where each had a manicure and pedicure.
It is claimed that they were then followed to McDonald’s restaurant in Rivonia Road. Afterwards, they headed back to Pretoria.
The accused disputed the footage, on which some of them can be seen, and said it was tampered with. Judge Papi Mosopa, however, provisionally admitted it as evidence following a lengthy trial-within-a-trial.
The trial was, meanwhile, marked by yet another lengthy trial-within-a-trial when Hudla contested a “confession” he had made to the SAPS shortly after his arrest. He claimed he was assaulted into confessing to something which had never happened.
But this “confession” was also provisionally admitted as evidence by the judge.
It is said in the “confession” that Mathibela paid Hudla and his co-accused R60 000 “for the job” − referring to the alleged hit on Bozwana.
Hudla thereafter vehemently denied that this was true.