/ 25 August 2023

Senzo Meyiwa trial: Gun could have been swopped, defence argues

Gettyimages 457939278
Senzo Meyiwa. (Getty Images)

Defence advocate Charles Mnisi said the gun found in the possession of the third accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, Mthobisi Mncube, could have been swopped because it was stored in an unsealed bag at the Cleveland police station for more than five years.

Captain Bongani Mtshali, who was responsible for securing exhibits from crime scenes at the police station from January 2019 to October 2022, returned to the stand at the Pretoria high court on Friday.

Mnisi raised the possibility of an exchange of guns after he read out a statement by Colonel Christian Mangena, which said when he collected the gun for ballistic testing from Mtshali on 20 July 2020, after it had been booked out for ballistics tests by a Sergeant Mandla Masondo on 10 February 2015, and returned to the exhibit store 15 days later by a Sergeant Sibongiseni Dlamini, it was in an unsealed bag.

“There exists a likelihood that the firearm that Mr Mangena received on 20 July 2020 could not have been the original firearm brought to the police station,” Mnisi said.

Mtshali replied that he could not speak for Mangena and explained that the only time the gun could have been in an unsealed bag would have been at the ballistics centre and it would have been placed in a sealed bag when it was returned to the police station.

Under re-examination by state prosecutor George Baloyi, Mtshali said he was shocked that the defence believed the original gun could have been exchanged for another one. 

Meyiwa was shot and killed in what the state believes was a botched robbery at the Vosloorus home of his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo on 26 October 2014.

The murder trial started from scratch on 17 July, with Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng replacing Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela after the latter was suspended for misconduct for failing to deliver judgments within a reasonable period.

The five people on trial — Mncube, Bongani Ntanzi, Mthokozisi Maphisa, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya and Fisokuhle Ntuli — have pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and the illegal possession of ammunition.