/ 31 January 2024

Meyiwa trial: Defence links police crime intelligence to alleged confessions

Gettyimages 457944020
The alleged involvement of police spooks in trying to extract a confession in the Senzo Meyiwa murder case dominated Wednesday’s trial sitting. (Photo: MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The alleged involvement of police spooks in trying to extract a confession in the Senzo Meyiwa murder case dominated Wednesday’s trial sitting, during defence advocate Zandile Mshololo’s cross-examination of lead investigator Brigadier Bongani Gininda. 

Mshololo told the Pretoria high court that lawyer Dominic Ntokozo Njiyako, who represented the first accused, Bongani Ntanzi, during his first court appearance in October 2020, was a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) until 2016.

Mshololo was questioning Gininda in the “trial within a trial” in which the defence is challenging the admissibility of alleged confessions made by Ntanzi and Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, the second accused in the matter, after they were arrested in 2020.

“You said you were working in the crime intelligence unit? Do you know that Mjiyako was a member of SAPS up until 2016, Mshololo asked. “Mjiyako was working in the crime intelligence.”

Gininda responded: “I did not know that, as I had never come across him.”

In October, magistrate Vivian Cronje told the court during her testimony that Ntanzi’s confession statement was given freely and voluntarily on 24 June 2020, in the presence of his legal representative, Mjiyako, as well as an interpreter. 

But the defence claimed that Ntanzi was assaulted at four locations by police officers before making the alleged confession and did not have Mjiyako as his representative. Mjiyako was on record as Ntanzi’s lawyer during his first appearance in the Boksburg magistrate’s court in connection with Meyiwa’s murder.

During court proceedings, the defence insisted that Ntanzi refused to have Mjiyako represent him at his first court appearance, as the lawyer allegedly wanted him to confess to the footballer’s murder. 

Ntanzi’s current advocate, Thulani Mngomezulu, wanted the audiovisual evidence showing Mjiyako played in court. He said the recording from the televised proceedings showed that Ntanzi had rejected Mjiyako as his attorney.

Mshololo also questioned Gininda on the alleged assault of the accused in custody and asked why the attack on Sibiya was not referred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) in terms of the Ipid Act.

But Gininda insisted that he had taken steps to look into the accused’s claims. He told the court that Sibiya needed to lodge a formal complaint so that a docket on the assault would be registered before the matter was taken to Ipid.

“I put it to you that if you complied, Ipid would have investigated the complaint,” Mshololo charged.

“That is not correct, you need to have a complainant statement. What do I comply with when I do not have anything?” was Gininda’s response.

“The feedback I got was that accused one was not willing to [make a statement]. Subsequent to that, all relevant entries showed that he was not assaulted. Now, in the absence of the complaint, what do you prefer, my lord?”

Mshololo’s line of questioning sought to discredit Gininda and Mjiyako, key to the state’s argument that the first two accused had proper legal representation when they supposedly admitted to killing Meyiwa.

The court previously heard from the defence that during Sibiya’s appearance at the Tembisa magistrate court on 19 June 2020 to make the alleged confession — a month after his arrest — he asked the presiding officer to detain him at a correctional centre, claiming he had been assaulted at the Silverton police station in Pretoria.

Sibiya and Ntanzi are among the five men accused of killing Meyiwa at the family home of his lover, singer Kelly Khumalo, in Vosloorus in October 2014. The other three are Mthobisi Ncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Fisokuhle Ntuli. 

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.