/ 13 November 2023

Senzo Meyiwa trial: Defence advocate tells court state witness is not neutral

The five people on trial — Ncube, 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. (Gallo Images/OJ Koloti)

Sergeant Vusimuzi Mogane was on Monday called back to the stand in the Pretoria high court to give evidence on automatic vehicle location (AVL) recordings related to the Senzo Meyiwa trial. This is despite defence advocate Thulani Mngomezulu’s argument that he was not a neutral witness since he was part of the team involved in the matter.

On Thursday, state prosecutor advocate George Baloyi said the car-tracking evidence would help the court determine the truth of accused number two Bongani Ntanzi’s claims that police made several stops, including in Alberton, Germiston and Orlando, where he was assaulted to force him into making a confession about the murder of the Bafana Bafana captain in October 2014.

“We submit, my lord, that if there is objective evidence that can help resolve the issue, then that evidence should be allowed,” Baloyi said at the time. Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng then said the lawyers must prepare heads of argument on the admission of the car-tracking evidence.

In his heads of argument on Monday, Baloyi said the evidence should be allowed if the allegations of assault and torture made by Ntanzi were serious and ought to be investigated. 

“If the AVL can assist this court, we believe it would be in the interest of justice that the evidence be allowed,” he said. 

Mngomezulu counter-argued that the nature of the AVL records required an expert to explain its functions.

“The state has not laid the basis of the AVL report and has not established the agent who tracked the vehicle from 16 June to 27 October 2020 and beyond,” he said, adding that the timing of the state’s bid to introduce the AVL document was irregular.

“The accused persons will suffer prejudice because the basis for which this application is made is to reintroduce evidence to rebut the version of accused two,” Mngomezulu said.

Mokgoatlheng ruled that, if it was in the interests of justice, it should be allowed and that the court must hear all the evidence, if relevant. 

“Where is the injustice or prejudice to Mr Ntanzi if the court listens to the AVL evidence? 

If need be, the manufacturers of that system will be called,” the judge said.

“This evidence is linked to the assertion put to this witness that that vehicle facilitated the assault on accused two. The cogency of this evidence can assist the court to the truth.”

Baloyi said the state would lead evidence on the vehicle movement report starting from 19 June 2020 but Mngomezulu argued that the evidence should be led from 16 June 2020, the day Ntanzi was arrested. 

“The issue is the 17 hours we alleged he was severely assaulted was on the 18th into the 19th of June 2020,” Mngomezulu said.

Mogane was then called back to the stand to give car-tracking evidence.

Ntanzi is among five men accused of killing Meyiwa at the home of his girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo, in Vosloorus, Gauteng on 26 October 2014. They have all pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and the illegal possession of ammunition.