Judge in Meyiwa trial set to rule on witness’ partial media blackout application

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All eyes will be on the judge in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela, when the trial resumes on Wednesday.

Maumela is expected to rule on the application by the state to ban the live broadcast of their next witness’s testimony, who has cited safety and comfort issues, which could be brought about by the live broadcast of “her” testimony.

Senzo Meyiwa Murder Trial resumes | 17 May 2023:

On Tuesday, the matter was stood down and postponed to Wednesday after the defense opposed the application to ban the live broadcast.

Attorney Dan Rosengarten also went to great lengths to argue against the application.

The state and the defense agreed to send their heads of arguments before the resumption of proceedings on  Wednesday morning.

New witness

The much-anticipated witness in the Senzo Meyiwa murder, who brought matters to a halt on Monday, should be subpoenaed if she is not willing to testify unless the court grants her demands. That’s according to Rosegarten who represented the media, following an application by the state to ban the live broadcast of the testimony of the witness who was supposed to take the stand today.

In the state’s submission on Monday morning, Advocate George Baloyi told the court that the next witness, who was in the house the night the former Orlando Pirates keeper was murdered, was unwilling to give testimony in court unless her demands were met.

The first ground for her demands was said to be for safety reasons. “Secondly, if they are carried live, that could put her under pressure and make her uncomfortable. She is not prepared to give evidence if her evidence is carried live,” said Baloyi.

Rosengarten says if that is how the witness feels, she should just be subpoenaed. He has attacked the witness’ submission that cameras in court would make her uncomfortable, arguing that the witness was no camera-shy.

Rosengarten has also told the court that the witness has failed to demonstrate to the court how her safety would be prejudiced by her giving her evidence why it is being broadcast live because she had previously made media statements linking her to the case, was tweeting while the matter was on, and that the witness herself was not against her testimony being reported on, over and above that the matter was being heard in an open court.

Attorney for accused 1 and 2, Sipho Ramosepele dismissed “her” reasons as flimsy.  

Advocate Charles Mnisi has told the court that refusing the broadcast of “her” testimony would make life difficult for his client, accused 3,’s family who have been following the live broadcast of proceedings since they cannot be in court owing to financial constraints. 

“Accused No. 3 is telling me that he has a family who would have loved to be part of the proceedings here but because of financial constraints they can’t. Therefore, the application not to broadcast the live proceedings (audio) should be shut down. That people out there should be afforded the opportunity to follow the proceedings,” says Mnisi. 

“It also comes to my mind that the deceased has a family from KZN and the followers of Orlando Pirates would like to know what is happening every step of the way. The order that there should not be an audio, would infringe on their freedom of speech.” 

Mshololo has described the application as an embarrassment, saying it is a matter that should have been dealt with during pre-trial conferences. 

She has accused the witness of not being genuine in raising safety concerns, because she, on her own volution, admitted that she was a well-known person and that she had previously been posting herself on social media about the case. 

“I have been posted on Instagram by this very same witness. If we were to consider the personal safety of this witness isolation … what about the safety of other people including other people like myself by this witness. The court must consider her safety in respect of all other people,” says Mshololo.  

In 2020, Muzi Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Ziphozonke Maphisa, and Fisokuhle 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. 

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Night of October 26

It is the state’s case that on the night of 26 October 2014, two intruders allegedly stormed into Kelly Khumalo’s mother, Gladness’ house in Vosloorus where Meyiwa, Madlala, Gladness, Kelly, Zandi Khumalo, Longwe Twala, and Mthokozisi Thwala were sitting in the lounge watching TV.

The alleged first intruder, who was short, had a hat on, had dreadlocks, and armed with a gun, is said to have demanded cellphones and money. This was moments before he was pushed over by Longwe Twala as he (Longwe) ran out of the house just before a commotion ensued in the house in the presence of the second alleged intruder before a shot that killed Meyiwa went off.