Senzo Meyiwa trial: Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela slams Dan Teffo’s ‘witchcraft’ allegations

Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela, who is presiding over the Senzo Meyiwa trial, has slammed accusations by advocate Dan Teffo that he had used a sangoma to bewitch him.

Maumela was speaking in the Pretoria high court on Tuesday during a hearing on what would be the new counsel for the first four of the five accused in the case, after Teffo dramatically withdrew from the case in July.

Teffo could still make a dramatic return to the trial. His former instructing attorney, TT Thobane, who still represents the four accused and distanced himself from Teffo’s witchcraft allegations against the judge, told the Mail & Guardian after the court adjourned that Teffo would return as lead counsel should his clients want him back. 

Thobane represents Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Ntanzi, Mthobisi Ncube and Mthokoziseni Maphisa, while the fifth accused, Fisokuhle Ntuli, is represented by advocate Zandile Mshololo. 

Teffo quit the case on 12 July, citing, in court, alleged “harassment” by Maumela, as well as a “plot” hatched in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office to have him removed from the trial.

Maumela’s rebuke comes after a letter from Teffo dated 28 July, to state prosecutor George Baloyi, in which he accused the judge of bringing a sangoma to court to “destabilise” the defence, with Teffo as the “main target”. 

“Judge Maumela started taking a concoction in the form of liquid drink every time when the court was in session to achieve the said goal of collapsing me inside court,” Teffo bizarrely alleged. 

“The sangoma was fortunately witnessed by all the parties when coming to consult Judge Maumela in his chambers, at the time we were with Judge Maumela.”

But Maumela repudiated Teffo’s accusations, as well as the advocate’s “unceremonious withdrawal” from the trial on 12 July, saying that his only physician was Jesus.

“I have a physician named Jesus and he needs no augmentation. Even before I came here, I consulted my physician. When I leave here, I will consult my physician. But my physician does not make me better than [anyone],” Maumela said. 

Thobane stressed that Teffo had withdrawn from the case and whatever he said after withdrawing was not from him as the instructing attorney.

“I needed to hear that, Mr Thobane. Thank you,” Maumela responded.

Despite distancing himself from Teffo’s utterances, Thobane told the M&G after the court adjournment that Teffo could still return if his four clients wanted him back.

“If the clients instruct me to brief an advocate, whether it is Teffo or anyone else, I will do so. Even all these advocates in the country – they are calling me, they want to come in on the matter. I’ve told them: ‘I must get instructions from the client,’” Thobane said.

He had earlier told the court Ntanzi, the second accused, would seek to launch a bail application, which Maumela said he had no problem with because it was Ntanzi’s constitutional right, and the bail hearing should be heard before the trial resumed on 5 September. 

The matter will return to court in September with all five accused still in custody. 

They face charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and the illegal possession of ammunition in connection with the footballer’s October 2014 murder. All five have pleaded not guilty.

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Khaya Koko
Khaya Koko is a journalist with a penchant for reading through legal documents braving the ravages of cold court benches to expose the crooked. He writes about social justice and human-interest stories. Most importantly, he is a card-carrying member of the Mighty Orlando Pirates.

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