Tensions high in murder trial of Durban soldier who allegedly shot wife

Anger, grief and frustration as two families almost come to blows

16 April 2024 - 19:26
Lwanda Mxolisi Zungu is accused of shooting his wife Tania at their home.
Image: Mfundo Mkhize Lwanda Mxolisi Zungu is accused of shooting his wife Tania at their home.

Tempers ran high at the Pinetown magistrate's court on Tuesday as families of murder accused Lwanda Mxolisi Zungu and his late wife Tania almost came to blows.

Zungu, a soldier, is charged with shooting his wife multiple times at their New Germany home outside Pinetown in January.

A mixture of anger, grief and frustration led to the two families almost coming to blows but were separated by an elder Zungu family member. 

Court proceedings came to a halt after defence advocate Muzi Mzelemu objected to the state proceeding with the bail hearing. He argued the state had added annexures and exhibits to an affidavit by the investigating officer, which the state was planning to read.

Mzelemu said if the state were to go that route then Zungu would have to go back onto the witness box.

“We have been supplied with loose documents. We feel that my client is not being given a fair trial, which is being deliberately being denied and that is why I am canvassing this,” said Mzelemu.

Tania Zungu was allegedly shot dead by her husband Mxolisi, who has since handed himself over to the police.
Image: Facebook/ Tania Zungu Tania Zungu was allegedly shot dead by her husband Mxolisi, who has since handed himself over to the police.

Mzelemu expressed concern the state had failed to cross-examine his client and has now resorted to adding documents.

“Legal processes should not be a game of chess or cards where you hold everything close to your chest only to ambush a person,” he said.

Mzelemu suffered a setback during the bail hearing after failing to convince the magistrate the matter should be heard as a schedule 5 instead of a schedule 6 matter as mooted by the state to indicate a premeditated crime.

Court prosecutor Ehud-Jadon Francke objected to the application by the defence.

Earlier the court heard testimony of Zungu’s younger sister, Lwanele, who was being led by Mzelemu and later cross-examined by Francke.

She said her brother's detention had not only disrupted the smooth running of their Newlands-West home but had also taken a toll on Zungu’s 13-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, who is now withdrawn and isolates herself in her room.

She said the teenager, who was still reeling from the loss of her mother in April last year, had now parted ways with her father.

“Last year she was forced to repeat a grade as she failed,” said Zungu.

The court heard from the accused on Friday that the teenager was consulting a psychologist.

Lwanele told Mzelemu that she had to help support her brother's daughter on her R4,420 salary from a call centre.

“The money is not enough and our priority is to pay for electricity and food,” she said. She said though her older sister had visited her brother in custody and received some support, the money was not enough.

“My niece's school fees have not been fully paid. An amount of R1,800 has been paid while the full amount is R2,400. She is also struggling to adjust because already she has entered puberty and requires sanitary towels,” said Lwanele.

Lwanele said she has not heard from her brother's two sons with Tania.

“I was not even at the funeral as I was working so I don’t know what has happened to them,” she said.

The mother said she also has to look after her own three children.

She said their family would accept and support her brother should he be granted bail.

“We don’t know that bad side of Lwanda. All we know is someone who pulled the family together and was of great assistance. I for one would not see him as an outcast, “ said Zungu.

She felt the release of his brother would give him the opportunity to sort out his disintegrated family, especially his children.

Magistrate Wendolyn Robinson adjourned the matter to Wednesday.