Timeline: Notable moments in hunt for culprits since Senzo Meyiwa’s murder

30 June 2023 - 07:45
By TimesLive
Senzo Meyiwa was shot dead in 2014 in Vosloorus, Johannesburg.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Senzo Meyiwa was shot dead in 2014 in Vosloorus, Johannesburg.

It is nine years since Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was murdered, three years after police heralded a breakthrough in their investigations, and so far five witnesses have testified during two years of trial.

The case is scheduled to resume next month but there is uncertainty as the trial judge is suffering from ill health and possible sanction for long delays in handing down his rulings. 

Here is a timeline of events so far: 

2023

June 28: Meyiwa murder trial judge Tshifhiwa Maumela is handed an official suspension notice signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa acting on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and pending an inquiry into his delayed judgments. The suspension notice, however, gives the go-ahead for him to finalise any part-heard matters.  

June 12: Judge Maumela falls ill, prompting Gauteng deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba to postpone the trial to July 17 as he cautions that Maumela may not be available for a long time, subject to what his medical doctors say. 

May 18: Zandile Khumalo, the state’s fifth witness, begins her testimony. Zandile points out Bongani Ntanzi as one of the intruders who entered the house on the night,  becoming the second witness to do so.

May 2: Mthokozisi Thwala, who grew up and played soccer with Meyiwa in KwaZulu-Natal, is the fourth state witness. He testified about the panic in the home when the robbers walked in. Meyiwa confronted one of them and Ntombi Khumalo tried to help him by using her crutches to assault the armed man. After hearing a gun shot, Thwala ran out to look for help. He said he was not involved in the scuffle.

April 28: Accused Ntanzi is denied bail.

April 20: The JSC recommends the suspension of Maumela pending a tribunal inquiry into a complaint about his late judgments. Some of these have been outstanding for between seven and 26 months, against the general guidelines that rulings should be handed down within three months of being reserved. The JSC, however, proposed he should complete any current trials in which he is involved.

2022

November: Tumelo Madlala, a childhood friend of Meyiwa’s who was in the house at the time of the shooting, is the third witness. He testifies two intruders walked into the home and demanded their valuables. He pointed out Ntanzi as the man Meyiwa pinned against a wall in the kitchen before a gunshot rang out.

September: Sgt Mlungisi Mthethwa, the second witness, is called. He was one of the first officers to arrive at the crime scene. During cross-examination, the defence accused Mthethwa, a constable at the time of the incident, and three colleagues of not inspecting the crime scene and leaving it unattended. 

July: The lawyer for four of the five accused, advocate Malesela Teffo, withdraws from the case. Teffo, a cop-turned-advocate, was known in legal circles as a labour lawyer who often took on cases of his former police colleagues. In September he would be struck off the roll of legal practitioners after 22 complaints against him including assault, breaching court orders and misappropriating funds received from clients.

June: Teffo discloses the existence of a second police docket. The docket, opened in 2019, lists everyone who was in the house at the time of the shooting as the accused. Police also investigated a neighbour who cleaned the house after the murder.

April: The state begins leading evidence by calling Sgt Thabo Mosia, who created a sketch plan and took photos of the crime scene shortly after the murder and revisited the scene with another officer the next day. He conceded he would handle the case differently now  after coming under the microscope for his contradictory testimonies. In June, during cross-examination by defence advocate Zandile Mshololo, Mosia said there was a possibility the crime scene may have been interfered with. However, in April Mosia testified he didn’t suspect tampering with evidence or contamination of the crime scene.

April 11: The case begins in the Pretoria high court after several delays. The prosecution says it intends to call about 15 witnesses, including police officers who responded to the scene, pathologists, neighbours and ballistics experts.

7 April 7: Netflix begins screening the documentary Senzo: Murder of a Soccer Star.

2020

October: Five suspects are arrested in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal on October 26. Then police commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole said the breakthrough came when the team of investigators discovered the firearm that killed Meyiwa. They make their first appearance in the Boksburg magistrate's court on October 27, where they are named as:

  • Muzikawulahlelwa Sibiya, who is accused number one. His family home is Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal, but he was living in Vosloorus and Thembisa, Gauteng. He had two attempted murder charges against him for which he was jailed for 12 years. One charge involved him shooting a female victim more than nine times at the Vosloorus hostel.

  • Bongani Ntanzi, originally from Nongoma but living in Rustenburg, North West, at the time of the murder. He was employed at Sibanye Gold.
  • Mthobisi Mncube, of Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal. He was serving time in prison at the time of his arrest for the murder of Alexandra taxi boss Reggie Mohlala, allegedly killed with the same 9mm pistol used to kill Meyiwa. 
  • Mthokosizi Maphisa, from KwaZulu-Natal, was arrested while in prison for another crime. 
  • Sifisokuhle Ntuli, from KwaZulu-Natal. He is serving multiple life sentences for political murders committed in the Nongoma area.

2014:

November 1: Meyiwa is buried at the Heroes' Acre cemetery in Chesterville, KwaZulu-Natal, after a massive ceremony attended by family and fans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

October 30: Police arrest Zamokuhle Mbatha, a Vosloorus resident, after he was allegedly identified by a witness during an identity parade. On November 11 charges against Mbatha are withdrawn due to insufficient evidence when he appears at the Boksburg magistrate's court due to insufficient evidence. This after he spent two weeks in custody.

October 29: Two men are questioned in KwaNongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, in connection with the case. They are cleared.

October 28: Police release 3D identikits of two suspects alleged to have been involved in Meyiwa's shooting.

October 27: Then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega announces a multi-disciplinary police task team has been set up. Phiyega reveals Meyiwa was shot in the back during a scuffle.

October 26: Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa is fatally shot in Vosloorus after two robbers entered the Khumalo family home he was visiting. He was 27 years old. The shooting took place in the presence of his then-girlfriend Kelly Khumalo, her mother Ntombi, her sister Zandile, Longwe Twala who was dating Zandile and Senzo’s friends Mthokozisi Thwala and Tumelo Madlala. Police were told by witnesses  the footballer was wounded after challenging one of the robbers, a dreadlocked man who was carrying a firearm. Meyiwa was transported to a nearby hospital where he was certified dead at 9.15pm on that night.

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