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Defence's need to consult with suspect clashes with family's hope for answers in Senzo Meyiwa trial

Lawyer for four of the suspects complains that their right to a speedy trial is being impeded

12 April 2022 - 15:29
The defence advocate for one of the five accused in the Senzo Meyiwa case has secured more time to consult with him.
The defence advocate for one of the five accused in the Senzo Meyiwa case has secured more time to consult with him.
Image: Antonio Muchave

The defence for one of the suspects on trial for the murder of former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa has secured a five-day postponement in the trial to consult with him.

This comes after fresh witness statements were filed a fortnight ago. Prosecutor George Baloyi had on Monday told the court that some of the witnesses had security issues and had to be placed in witness protection, which had dictated the timing of the state releasing their statements. 

Baloyi also told the court the request to have all the accused detained in one place has been denied due to security reasons.

Accused number 5, Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli, was moved to a supermax prison in Kokstad last year after being convicted of six murders, which made it difficult to gain access to him, advocate Zandile Mshololo told the high court in Pretoria on Monday.

After being granted a one-day delay, Mshololo returned to court on Tuesday to say she needed more time to consult with him.

The request for the postponement was vehemently opposed by Malesela Teffo, the advocate representing the other four accused — Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube and Mthokoziseni Maphisa.

“If this matter is postponed today, they will be seriously prejudiced,” said Teffo, arguing his clients have a right to a speedy trial.

But Mshololo said: “We still need more particulars to prepare our defence. The instruction that I got after going through the statements that were handed in two weeks ago [by the prosecution] is that we still need time to verify information contained in the statement from the defence witnesses.”

This would require more time as some of the witnesses are in Johannesburg and some in KwaZulu-Natal, she said.

Ntuli would suffer prejudice if not afforded an opportunity to prepare for his defence, said Mshololo.

Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela granted the request but said this would be a final postponement as the case needs to get under way.

“In the sense that accused 5 [Ntuli] found himself without adequate time to prepare, I shall grant the request for a further postponement [while advising] representatives of accused 5 that this must be the last time this case is postponed,” he said.

After the postponement, advocate Gerrie Nel, who is representing the Meyiwa family, said while the delay was understandable, he was eager for the trial to get going.

“I understand the argument by advocate Mshololo, I understand that they need more time to prepare, I thought that it was a fair application. But we are impressed that the court said, though we understand that the accused is right in terms of the constitution, the family also has the right, society has the right, for this matter to start and finish,” he said.

Nomalanga Meyiwa, the late footballer's sister, had been eagerly anticipating hearing evidence on Tuesday.

“We are hoping, as the judge has said, that we also have rights as a family and [while] we have to wait, then we are hoping that when we come back we will finalise [the case] so that we can also have closure as a family,” she said.

“We want this chapter to be closed. We wish to live our lives going forward.”

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