Lion murder trial: Witness returns to stand

A witness to an alleged assault on Nelson Chisale will be called back to the stand in the lion murder trial in the Phalaborwa Circuit Court on Thursday to be cross-examined on his evidence by counsel for his former employer, Mark Scott-Crossley.

Amos Ndlovu, who was employed as a labourer by Scott-Crossley in 2003, told the court on Wednesday that he saw his former employer assault Chisale with his fists after Chisale left work without permission to go and buy liquor.

He was later fired himself when he misunderstood an order given to him by Scott-Crossley, who he claimed grabbed him by his collar, pointed a hammer at him and racially insulted him before telling him to pack his bags and go.

Scott-Crossley (37) was convicted in April of masterminding the premeditated murder of Chisale (41), who was viciously assaulted and then fed to lions in an enclosure at the Mokwalo White Lion Project in Hoedspruit in January last year.

His co-accused, Simon Mathebula (43), was convicted of acting in concert with him in committing the murder. Sentencing deliberations resumed on Wednesday after a month’s adjournment.

The trial of a third accused, Richard “Doctor” Mathebula (41), no relation, was postponed until November 29 in Tzaneen Circuit Court after he fell ill with suspected tuberculosis and was hospitalised.

A fourth accused, Robert Mnisi, turned state’s witness and has been indemnified against prosecution.

All that was found of Chisale in the lion encampment was a shaft of long bones, a skull with no mandible, fragments of rib, vertebrae, a pelvic girdle and a finger, his shredded shirt and a ripped pair of khaki trousers. His remains were buried at his birthplace at Maboloka village, in Brits, North West, last March.

Testifying before Judge George Maluleke and assessors Kate Choshi and Elphus Seemele on Wednesday, Ndlovu complained that Scott-Crossley had troubled people working under him.

“He used to assault and even promise or threaten to shoot,” he told the court, adding that he had seen Scott-Crossley with a firearm.

He had been afraid of Scott-Crossley. His co-workers had also been tense, he responded under cross-examination by Mathebula’s counsel, Mduduzi Thabede.—Sapa