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Accused in court for intimidating Zuma’s wife

A Tanzanian man threatened one of President Jacob Zuma's wives with a claim that she had a child by a man other than Zuma, the Camperdown Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday.

Brigadier Clifford Marion, head of the police's detective branch in KwaZulu-Natal, was questioned about details of the intimidation charge against Tanzanian national Steven John Masunga.

Marion told the court Masunga had sent several threatening SMSs from his cellphone to Zuma's wife Nompumelelo Ntuli, commonly known as MaNtuli. She has two children from her marriage to Zuma.

Asked by magistrate Thys Taljaard to be more specific about the intimidating SMSs, Marion replied: "The accused is alleging that the child born from the complainant is not that of the South African president."

The charge of intimidation arises from a complaint made by Ntuli, who claimed Masunga tried to force her to arrange a business meeting for him with Zuma. The alleged offence happened on January 15.

Marion was giving evidence in the state's bid to oppose bail. He said Masunga was arrested after complaining to Marion about the way an unrelated investigation into a burglary was being handled.

Masunga had introduced himself as Steven Ongolo at Marion's office. Marion said when he heard the name he recognised it from the complaint Ntuli had lodged with police.

Arrest
Having seen the SMS on Ntuli's phone, he called the number and Masunga's phone rang. He promptly arrested Masunga, confiscated his phone and seized his passport. He said when Masunga was arrested, instead of calling a lawyer, he called a Sunday Tribune journalist.

"In my office I gave him the chance to call his lawyer. He phoned Nathi Olifant from Independent Newspapers. This whole media hype was caused by the accused, not the state," he said.

Marion said Masunga was a flight risk as he was not ordinarily resident in South Africa and only returned to South Africa on January 19 after having travelled to countries including Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Ethiopia. He had a visitor's permit that expires on February 18.

"He will go back to Tanzania and he will not come back."

Marion said he downloaded SMSs from Masunga's and Ntuli's phones. He said Ntuli and Masunga had met in 2010.

Marion said after he had arrested Masunga, he complained that Ntuli was intimidating him. However, he did not find any SMSs on either phone to support this claim.

On Monday, Taljaard expressed uncertainty over whether his court had jurisdiction over the case since it was not clear where the offence had taken place.

The bail hearing continues. – Sapa

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