Judge allows defence-contested car tracking evidence in Meyiwa trial

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The judge in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial has ruled in favour of the state in its application for the use of the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system evidence.

This is in relation to the movements of the car in which state witness, Sergeant Vusumuzi Mogane, transported accused 2, Bongani Ntanzi, on the days the defense says Ntanzi was tortured and assaulted in different locations and was forced to make confessions. 

Judge Ratha Mokgoatheng says the evidence is relevant and interlinked to the evidence given by the defense and the version by the accused that the Toyota Fortuner that was driven by Mogane detoured to several locations where he endured torture. 

“And the evidence can assist the court in establishing the truth,” argues Mokgoatlheng. 

“Is it in the interest of justice to allow the evidence? It is that evidence that Mr Mngomezulu says the court should not hear. I find that the evidence is relevant and that the state is allowed to lead that evidence.” 

According to the defence, Ntanzi was transported to several locations including Alberton, a dumping area in Germiston, Chris Hani Baragwanath as well as an area next to disused atm’s in Orlando, Soweto where he was assaulted and forced to sign prepared confession statements.

Mngomezulu says his client his client was assaulted until an officer who took down his first alleged confession, Colonel Mohale Raphadu, asked if he was still alive, while Mogane is said to have pleaded with the officers to stop assaulting the accused.

All the officers who have taken the stand have denied the accusations of torture, with Mogane asking if Ntanzi would still be alive if he were subjected to repeated torture as claimed by the defense.

Earlier, the state argued that the evidence was not new evidence, as contended by the defense, arguing that the evidence was in response to the defence’ version during cross-examination that the witness had detoured to several locations on the day in question. 

According to the state, the evidence was only acquired on the 3rd of November, at the height of the trial-within-a-trial hearing arguments on the admissibility of confession statements, pointings-out, and warning statements. 

Advocate Thulani Mngomezulu has argued that the timing of the discovery of this evidence was prejudicial to his client. 

However, the judge did not agree.  

“There’s no time where you say the state can no longer investigate. It is unfair to accuse Mr Baloyi of having dragged his feet (in not investigating the movement of Mogane’s vehicle),” says Mokgoatlheng.  

The judge says if the evidence would assist the court, it should be allowed and the timing of the discovery of the evidence irrelevant. 

The judge has also disagreed that Mogane did not have the authority to testify on the AVL records since he was not an expert, arguing that one could be an expert by merely being in an environment.  

Mokgoatlheng quoted the case of Hamilton Naki, a gardener who became a heart surgeon without any formal education and assisted Dr Chris Barnard in performing his 3 December 1967 heart transplant. 

The state will be leading the AVL evidence in the post-lunch proceedings and the defense will be allowed to cross-examine thereafter.  

After years of not much progress reported on Meyiwa’s murder case, the NPA, in 2020, announced a breakthrough in the investigation when Muzi Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Ziphozonnke Maphisa, and Sifisokuhle Ntuli were charged with Meyiwa’s murder, attempted murder of other witnesses, robbery with aggravating circumstances, unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of ammunition. 

All five pleaded not guilty to all the charges. 

The court is currently hearing arguments on the admissibility of confession statements by accused Sibiya and Ntanzi, pointings out by Sibiya as well as warning statements by Mncube, Maphisa and Ntuli. 

The defence has opposed the admissibility of these, arguing that their clients were tortured, assaulted, tubed and choked into signing the confession statement. 

Senzo Meyiwa Murder Trial | 13 November 2023