The family of Palesa Madiba, the University of Johannesburg student, who was found dead after being missing for more than two years, says the constant court postponements have taken a toll on them.
On Monday, the case was again postponed in the Johannesburg High Court, after the attorney of the accused failed to arrive in court.
Madiba’s body was discovered buried in a shallow grave at the accused’s home in Soweto in December 2015. She had been reported missing two years earlier after visiting a friend, who is the niece of the accused.
Skeleton remains linked to 21-year old UJ student Palesa Madiba:
During proceedings, Presiding Judge Prince Manyathi asked the accused, Dumisani Mkhwanazi, where his lawyer was. He said he didn’t know and suggested that the judge ask his niece, Tshidi Mkhwanazi, who was seated in the public gallery.
During last week’s court appearance, Dominic Thinane, the lawyer for the accused, had indicated his intention to withdraw from the case, saying he had not been paid. The judge had given Mkhwanazi until Monday to consult with his lawyer.
However, after the judge summoned Tshidi forward, she told the court that she had not been able to meet Thinane to pay him his outstanding legal fees.
The judge asked if the accused wanted Legal Aid after Tshidi indicated that the lawyer had not received half of the money due to him.
The visibly irritated Judge Manyathi said that he had already postponed the matter several times, adding that Madiba’s family have a right to a speedy trial. He asked Tshidi to look for Thinane.
“And Madam, you have to go and get Mr Thinane. Whether you phone each other or not, I am not interested in those particular issues. Make sure that you get Mr Thinane. If Mr Thinane is not here by Wednesday, I am going to set a trial date and you are running the risk of conducting this matter on your own because you don’t want Legal Aid. You want Mr Thinane, it’s your right.”
Postponements taking a toll on family
Madiba’s family says the constant court postponements have taken a toll on them. Her aunt, Malesela Moshidi, says after waiting for Palesa before her body was found, they now have to wait for justice.
“It has really taken a toll on my family. We waited to find Palesa and after finding Palesa, we wanted for the arrest and now we are still waiting for this guy to face his demons. It is like he is playing a dirty game because now there’s story after story. It is really annoying and it is taking us back to that dark place.”
Madiba’s body was discovered buried in a shallow grave at the accused’s home. She had been reported missing two years earlier after visiting Tshidi.
The state will argue that Mkhwanazi, who stayed in the backroom at their home in Phiri, entered the home after Tshidi had left Palesa in the house to go to work, and allegedly killed the deceased.
It’s alleged he forcefully took Palesa’s cellphone and sold it.
In March 2019, the accused was stopped by police. Inside the car he was driving, officers discovered a firearm and ammunition, but he could not produce a licence for them.
The matter continues on Wednesday.