/ 14 November 2023

Senzo Meyiwa trial: Defence says state witness must testify on his own recollection of events

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)

A defence advocate in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, Charles Mnisi, on Tuesday objected to the use of automatic vehicle location (AVL) records by Sergeant Vusimuzi Mogane to indicate the route he used while driving with one of the accused, Bongani Ntanzi, in 2020, saying the witness should rely on his independent recollection of events.

Mogane was recalled to the stand at the Pretoria high court on Monday to give the car-tracking evidence that state prosecutor George Baloyi said would help determine the truth of 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.

Mogane had previously told the court that he drove around with Ntanzi for 17 hours while investigating other cases and also drove to his workplace in Rustenburg.

On Tuesday Mogane went through a list of the AVL entries which showed him driving in Soweto on the evening of 19 June 2020. He told the court that he did not realise he had broken the speed limit on several occasions while driving from Soweto along the N1 highway towards Pretoria, on the way to Phokeng on the evening of 19 June 2020.

Asked about his speeding, the police officer said when the car is serviced and in good condition, one tends to speed. 

He mentioned a few stops and occasions where the car was idling, saying this was because he was getting food for himself and Ntanzi.

“While on the N4, we stopped and switched off the engine at 20:15 and started again at 20:17. There is an Engen filling station with Wimpy which Mabena [another officer] had placed an order at and we went in to collect the food for myself, Mabena and Mr Ntanzi,” Mogane said.

He said the group arrived at Ntanzi’s place of residence at Freedom Park in Rustenburg at 10.33pm and looked for an item of clothing that the court had been told was worn by one of the two alleged intruders when Meyiwa was killed.

“We went straight to Ntanzi’s place of residence to look for the hoodie, while Brigadier [Bongani] Gininda and [Sergeant Batho] Mogola went to the local police station where they arrived and processed him at 23:26,” he said.

Mnisi said what he did not get from Mogane’s testimony was what route the group had taken to Primrose from Phokeng, telling the court: “I just want to align my notes.”

When Mogane referred to the AVL records, Mnisi interjected, saying the records were not the witness’s testimony and he could not always refer to them.

“My understanding is that it is not how a witness should be testifying, a witness should be testifying independently in his own recollection, he can simply say on our way from Phokeng we took this road and this road till they got to Primrose, then this document would come and say that what the witness is saying is correct,” the defence lawyer said.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng said it would be impossible for the witness to recall every detail.

“Let us be fair to the witness, this is a detailed travel log. Show me a witness in this world who can recall everything that has happened and give all the details,” Mokgoatlheng said.

“As I understand it, this evidence he is narrating is from this document because he is the one who was driving this vehicle, and the system on the vehicle was annotating the route he was taking. I do not see anything wrong with that. So this witness is correct to read the content, let him relate to what the document is saying.”

Ntanzi is one of 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.