Tempers flare at Senzo Meyiwa trial, judge lashes out at defence

The defense for accused 1 and 2 speaking to the accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the high court in Pretoria.
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Tempers flared in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial on Wednesday afternoon when Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, seemingly annoyed, gave the defence a tongue-lashing.

This after state witness Sergeant Vusumuzi told the court that a document containing confidential information about other cases he’s investigating, which the court ordered him to produce on Tuesday, had been seen by the accused.

Mogane asks, “I would also like to ask when I brought that document, was it for the lawyers or the accused.” 

Judge Mokgoatlheng, in his response, didn’t mince his words.  “I am shocked that senior counsels like this can behave like this. This gentleman is correct that people can be shot,” Judge Mokgoatlheng lashes out.  

Mogane had complained that during the break he had seen the accused gathered around perusing a document that has sensitive information about investigations that link some of them, saying such would jeopardise the lives of the witnesses mentioned in it. 

“I am worried for our witnesses in those cases and some of those cases also affect some of the accused. In all these cases, there are firearms involved. People have been shot, people have been kidnapped and others have been threatened. Now, I am worried about my witnesses. There’s a couple of case numbers on there and it is possible that they can then get onto our systems to get the names and addresses of people,” Mogane laments. 

Subsequently, Judge Mokgoatlheng made an order that all copies in the possession of the defense counsels be handed back but this seemed to go against the same order, apparently at the height of his emotions. This was when Advocate Zandile Mshololo rose to request that the copies not be kept by the court.   

“This document will not form part of these proceedings. This evidence has been contaminated. This court makes a ruling that this information must be expunged on the basis that other people’s lives could be jeopardised,” Judge Mokgoatlheng explains. 

Adv Mshololo then asked the court not to keep the copies, raising the ire of the judge.  

Mshololo: My lord, can I make one request, my lord? I know the court has ruled, but it is my request that, that information that has been taken back from us must not also be kept with the court. 

Judge: Why not? 

Mshololo: Because that information is coming from the witness.  

Judge: Did you hear the ruling I made? 

Mshololo: That we are not entitled to it. The order was that the witness was to bring that information for court purposes. The information cannot come from the witness directly to the court, without us having been given an opportunity to look at it.  

Judge: I thought you had seen it. 

Mshololo: No, I have not seen it. 

Judge: OK, take it. This information will form part of these proceedings. So that if this case is somewhere, the SCA or the Constitutional Court, they can have access to it. I am so naïve as to take information which has been led in this court and keep it in my sitting room.   

On Tuesday, Mogane, who booked out accused 2 in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial out for 18 hours – the day before he made his first confession at Moroka Police Station – has been asked to disclose the other cases he says he had to go investigate in Alberton. According to Sergeant Mogane this was the reason why Bongani Ntanzi had spent so many hours with them before he was booked back into the holding cells at a police station in Pretoria at 2h30 on the 19th. 

Mogane had initially told the court that he could not disclose the cases he had had to probe. 

“I am going to make an order that you disclose all the other cases. But you must do so in the form of a note which should be shared with all the counsel, who may not disclose that information,” says Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng. 

Ntanzi, who was arrested on the 16th of June 2020, was booked out on the morning of the 18th as police sought to confirm whether he indeed was at work on the day the former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper was murdered.  

According to Mogane, once the HR records at Ntanzi’s then workplace in Westonaria had confirmed that he was not at work on the day, they drove to Alberton with him to investigate other cases he was not in a position to divulge openly in court. 

Mogane says he and his colleague, the late Sergeant Steven Mabena, did not take Ntanzi back to the Moot Police Station from Westonaria before going to Alberton because he would be bored in the police cells and didn’t seem to mind driving around them. 

He has denied the accused was tortured and coerced into signing the confession statements the following day at the Moroka Police Station. 

The trial continues.