Advocate defending suspects in Senzo Meyiwa case wants trial to resume early as ‘witnesses are in danger’
The advocate representing four of the five men accused of murdering Bafana Bafana player Senzo Meyiwa has written to the high court to make an urgent request for the matter to resume earlier than scheduled.
The trial was initially postponed to May 30. Advocate Malesela Teffo wants it to resume on May 18, saying this would be in the best interests of justice, the accused and family of the deceased.
“The defence witnesses for accused one to four are receiving serious threats to their lives from police and we wrote to national police commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola to ask him to intervene. However, the national commissioner never responded or acknowledged receipt of our letter,” he said in the submission.
“The same letter informed the national commissioner about the threats to arrest advocate Teffo with a fraudulent warrant of arrest on April 20 until advocate Teffo was arrested on April 28, and later the same national commissioner claimed [a] lack of knowledge about the warrant of arrest.”
Teffo charged that the conduct of police on April 28 had undoubtedly violated the rights of accused one to four and their defence counsel in terms of the provisions of section 35(3)(f) of the constitution.
Teffo asked the court to inform the parties in writing before Friday so they could prepare for the suggested date of May 18.
“May 30 was not suggested by the defence of accused one to four. The current volatile situation against the defence of accused one to four was never foreseen. We value the safety and security of our witnesses, the same as the state is protecting its witnesses, though it is not clear who and/or what is endangering the lives of state witnesses.”
Teffo said he was certain the lives of defence witnesses were in danger.
“We request the honourable court to agree to expedite the trial by bringing it forward as soon as possible. This will be in the best interest of justice, the accused and the family of the deceased,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority's Isaac Dhludlu said: "We have received the papers in this regard, but counsel for accused five and the state have pre-existing court duties in that period, hence 30 May was decided upon in October 2021 already.”
The five men were arrested in connection with Meyiwa’s October 2014 murder. The accused are Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli.
They have been charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, possession of firearms without a licence and possession of ammunition. They have all pleaded not guilty.
The people present in the house at the time of the shooting were Meyiwa’s girlfriend Kelly Khumalo, her mother Ntombi, sister Zandi, Zandi’s boyfriend Longwe Twala and Meyiwa’s friends Mthokozisi Twala and Tumelo Madlala.
Khumalo's two children — one aged four and the other, of whom Meyiwa was the father, seven months — were also present.
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