Security tightened around witness in Meyiwa trial

Security tightened around witness in Meyiwa trial

Security has been tightened around the state witness who has placed all the five accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial in Vosloorus on the day the former Orlando Pirates coach was shot and killed.

Proceedings had to be cut short on Friday, as the counsel for accused 3, Mthobisi Mncube, said he was uncomfortable starting his cross-examination without the original handwritten notes, or statement Constable Sizwe Zungu wrote, which was used to commission the final statement presented in court.

Zungu, who conceded that there were mistakes in the final statement before the court, said he would have to travel to his home in KwaZulu-Natal to access some of the original notes.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng has raised security concerns with this, instructing the state to prioritise Zungu’s security as he travels back home.

Judge: So there’s a real possibility that the safety of this witness is being compromised. When he goes out of here, and not going to the safe house, but to his home, because there are cellphones and people can be phone that ‘He’s coming home.’ These are practical things. Serious! So where are these security guards. Are they inside?

Baloyi: I think they are outside, my lord.

Judge: So, can you make arrangements.

Baloyi: I am sure arrangements can be made.

Judge: So that this witness is given the opportunity to go home to retrieve all those notes and he must also go to the safe house on Monday. Is it possible that on Monday, we will have all those documentations.

Baloyi: I am sure arrangements can be made.

Judge: Mr Mnisi we will postpone and hope that this witness will still be alive on Monday. (To the witness) Don’t laugh.

Zungu: I will pray.

According to Baloyi, the state had already intensified Zungu’s security following what the state calls threatening gestures from accused 5, Fisokuhle Ntuli to the witness while he was giving testimony on Thursday.

The judge warned the accused against intimidating witnesses on the stand.

According to Zungu, who says he was with all the five accused at a hostel in Vosloorus the day Meyiwa was killed, there are some mistakes in the final statement with regard to how the names of the accused were mentioned in relation to how everything transpired.

Zungu has told the court that on the 26th of October, he received a call from his nephew, Gwabini Sfiso Nzungu,  who invited him to a gathering at the hostel where some of their “homeboys” – which are the accused – were going to chill over drinks and meat.

He says the five accused at some point in the early evening disappeared and came back between 20h30 and 21h30 looking to be in panic and carrying a Revolver 38 special and a 9 mm pistol.

Zungu, who had earlier handed his police gun and car keys to his nephew Gwabini to place in his room, says when he saw the accused following each other into his nephew’s room he followed them to check up on his gun.

“I was concerned they would use my gun to kill people because I had knowledge that they were nkabis,” says Zungu in his statement read out in court.

He says as he approached the room, he could hear Gwabini warning everyone that he was coming, before a light went off.

He says they were carrying guns when he walked into the bedroom, but upon inspection of his work pistol he was satisfied it had not been used.

During cross-examination Sipho Ramosepele first put it to the witness that accused had said he had never seen him before, which Zungu said was a lie.

However, after taking further instructions from the accused, Ramosepele said accused had said he had seen him before but the first time being 2019, five years after Meyiwa was murder.

Zungu has insisted he saw the accused on the 26th of October 2014 even though he could not say whether they had killed Meyiwa since he was at the hostel when the incident happened.

Proceedings got off to a tense start on Friday morning as the state played a video clip showing accused 5, Fisokuhle Ntuli, making gestures that the state has described as a pull of a trigger, which happened during Constable Sizwe Zungu’s testimony on Thursday.

Quizzed by the court as to what message he was trying to convey, Ntuli says he cannot recall, insisting that from where he is sitting he cannot even see the witness.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng has warned the accused against intimidating witnesses.

Mokgoatlheng has gone further to say the same had happened during Jack Buthelezi’s testimony.

Buthelezi, accused 2 Bongani Ntanzi’s friend, made a u-turn on the witness on Tuesday when he was giving testimony about a conversation he had had with Ntanzi following his arrest.

During his evidence-in-chief, Buthelezi told the court that Ntanzi had told him he was arrested for unlawful possession of ammunition and for killing the former Bafana Bafana captain.

However, under cross-examination Buthelezi changed his tune saying Ntanzi had said it was the police that were saying he killed Meyiwa.

The judge, noting his 50 years of experience, says he noticed similar gestures from the accused.

He has admonished the accused.

The trial will continue on Monday.

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