Defence lawyer in Meyiwa murder trial calls out witness behaviour

03 October 2023 - 21:17
By Shonisani Tshikalange
Advocate Zandile Mshololo during the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the Gauteng high court in  November 2022. (Photo by Gallo Images/OJ KolotI
Image: OJ Koloti ED_421482 Advocate Zandile Mshololo during the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the Gauteng high court in November 2022. (Photo by Gallo Images/OJ KolotI

Tempers flared as the Senzo Meyiwa trial proceedings wrapped up for the day on Tuesday. Defence lawyer Zandile Mshololo did not take kindly to police constable Sizwe Skhumbuzo Zungu's remarks about her cross-examination.

“That was quick,” Zungu, a state witness, quipped as Mshololo paused her cross-examination of him to ask that the matter be rolled over to Wednesday.

“Why are you in such a hurry?” Zungu asked Mshololo during proceedings in the high court in Pretoria. 

A displeased Mshololo said:  “That is misbehaving, my Lord, of this witness.

“That is misbehaving in front of the state who read the rules of the conduct of the witnesses in this court. That remark is wrong and disrespectful towards me,” she said.

Intervening, judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng asked Zungu about the remarks he had made.

 “I said it was quick, I wasn't expecting that we are done already for the day,” Zungu replied. 

“What type of remark was that?” Mokgoatlheng asked, seeking clarity.   

“That is a disrespectful remark, my Lord,” Mshololo pressed on. 

Zungu sheepishly replied that his remark was in no way meant to disrespect Mshololo.

Mokgoatlheng cautioned everyone in court to respect the decorum of the court but a dissatisfied Mshololo continued.

“It's fine, my Lord. You can protect the witness but it's wrong what the witness has said,” she said. 

This comment seemingly did not sit well with Mokgoatlheng, who responded: How can I protect the witness? I just asked him why he made that remark. I wanted to understand why, he gave an explanation but I am not saying that the explanation is sufficient, I am saying people should respect the decorum of this court.”

Earlier, Section 203 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) took the spotlight. The act deals with witnesses not being compelled to provide answers that may incriminate them.

This as Zungu's cross-examination by the defence moved to aspects that might incriminate him.

Defence lawyers had questioned Zungu on why he did not act immediately if he had information that could have helped solve the murder much earlier.

Meyiwa was gunned down in October 2014.

In his evidence in chief, Zungu had said he saw the accused celebrating Meyiwa's death at a Vosloorus hostel. He claimed the celebrations happened over a bottle of whisky on the night of the murder. This was before news of Meyiwa's shooting had been made public.

Zungu claimed two of the accused were carrying firearms. Zungu had spent the day at the hostel with his nephew who lived there. 

Zungu has testified that when he saw the identikit pictures that had been published in a newspaper after the murder, he remembered how one of the accused, Bongani Ntanzi, had been wearing  a black hoodie and he had changed it when he returned to the hostel that night.  

Explaining the dreadlocked suspect, he said it didn't click that much to him as the pictures showed unplaited dreadlocks and another of the accused, Mthobisi Prince Mncube’s, dreadlocks were plaited at the time. 

In 2020, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Ntanzi, Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli were arrested.

Zungu said he realised the value of what he had witnessed only in 2018, two years after the murder. 

Taking action, Zungu then spoke to his cluster commander, Gen Vincent Leshabane, who said he would conduct his own investigations. However, he said he did not tell Leshabane that he was at the hostel. Zungu said he withheld parts of information from Leshabane because he did not want it known that the tip-off came coming from him and he did not have any certainty that the men he was with were 100% linked to the crime. 

He said later he was told by Leshabane to drop the issue and not to speak about it again — for his own safety as there had been attempts to kill him.

Mshololo has poured water on Zungus's testimony about the events of the night at the Vosloorus hostel.

She said the reason that Zungu had omitted some aspects of his story to Brig Bongani Gininda and Leshabane was because that version never happened.

Mshololo questioned why Zungu had sat on such crucial information about the murder for about five years.

Zungu argued that at the time he didn't have sufficient information and said he eventually gave the police the information.