Senzo Meyiwa. File photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images
State witness magistrate Vivian Cronje told the Pretoria high court on Tuesday that she recorded the confession of Bongani Ntanzi, the second accused person in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.
Cronje took the stand as the third witness in a “trial within the trial” which arose after the prosecutor, advocate George Baloyi, said the state wanted to determine whether the confessions made by Ntanzi and another accused, Muzukawukhulelwa Sibiya, were admissible.
The two are among five men on trial for the October 2014 killing of the Bafana Bafana footballer at the home of his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo in Vosloorus, Gauteng.
Cronje said on 24 June 2020, she received a call from the senior magistrate of the Boksburg magistrate’s court to come to the office and take down a confession from Ntanzi.
On arrival, Cronje said there was a heavy presence of officers from the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department along the passage leading to the office she was going to use.
Cronje said she set up her laptop, prepared documents and then went to the senior magistrate where she was provided with a blank pro forma document which is now before the court.
Cronje said the recording of the confession statement by the accused was not made for official purposes and the people in the room were not told that they were being recorded.
She explained that she usually records conversations in instances where she is in a place that has no recording facilities like a courtroom.
“It is a personal choice and also for my own safety,” Cronje said.
Defence advocate Zandile Mshololo rose to say the information the state had disclosed was new and the defence had not been furnished with it to listen to.
“We are entitled to listen to it as the state might use it in its evidence, I am asking for the opportunity to listen to it,” Mshololo said.
State prosecutor George Baloyi said there was a three-hour recording of the confession which he had received on Tuesday morning.
“The view from the defence is that we proceed and they listen to the recording overnight before they cross-examine,” Baloyi said.
Cronje told the court that Ntanzi’s lawyer was present and produced his appointment certificate as well as his Fidelity Fund Certificate before she could proceed to take down the statement.
“I started with the document where I described the person in front of me, his clothing and his conduct,” the witness said.
Cronje said Ntanzi appeared to be “very relaxed”, maintained eye contact when asked questions and was “calm”. He was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he was making the statement, she added.
She told the court that Ntanzi indicated he had no injuries to report except his heart condition and that he had not taken a bath for some days.
“I informed the deponent [Ntanzi] that I am a magistrate and I am not in any way involved in the investigation against him. I told him that I do not work with the police and that he could speak freely and without fear in my presence,” Cronje said.
Cronje said she also told Ntanzi that if necessary he would be afforded protection against any irregularities and that the session was not a trial and she had not heard any charge against him.
“I told him that he was under no obligation to make a confession or divulge any self-incriminating information as it could be used against him in court,” Cronje said.
However, Ntanzi said: “The police told me to come make a statement and I am happy to make a statement.”
The court adjourned until Wednesday so the defence could listen to the confession recording.
The five men on trial have pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and the illegal possession of ammunition.