Lead investigator takes the stand in Senzo Meyiwa murder trial

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The Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria is now hearing testimony from the case’s Lead investigator, Brigadier Bongani Gininda, who heads the National Cold Case unit.

Gininda, whose name has featured prominently since the start of the trial as well as the trial within a trial, ascended to the witness stand on Monday afternoon.

He has told the court the Senzo Meyiwa murder docket fell under the purview of his office – the National Cold Case unit – the moment investigations in the matter hit a brick wall without any further leads.

First up, state prosecutor, Advocate George Baloyi, enquired from Gininda about how the drugs-related matter, for which accused 1, Muzi Sibiya was arrested, on the 30th of May 2020 before he confessed in relation to Meyiwa’s murder a few hours later, fell under his office.

“All matters that have gone cold in the police system, fall under the Cold Case unit and this was one of those matters when we started and we then investigated while we were looking at accused 1 in relation to the current matter,” says Gininda.

The detectives’ head who has completed training in special weapons and explosives, vehicle-related crimes and investigations, and crime scene management, among others, says Sibiya was, at the time of his arrest, already a person of interest in the Meyiwa murder case.

He says the Meyiwa case was not the only case that had gone cold that had cited Sibiya as an accused.

“At the time accused 1 became a person of interest in this case, we did an analysis and his profiling. Through that, this Tembisa matter was picked up in relation to accused 1 as well as another case. It was also discovered all the cases relating to accused 1 were also cold for some reason hence that warrant of arrest was then drawn in relation to the Tembisa case.”

In line with Sergeant Batho-Bakae Mogola’s testimony – the officer who arrested Sibiya – Gininda says he got a report from Mogola that Sibiya was making admissions in relation to the death of the former Bafana Bafana star.

Under cross-examination, Mogola let the court in on a conversation she says she had with Sibiya outside a hostel in Vusumuzi Section in Tembisa the day she arrested him.

She says while making some admissions about his involvement in the 2014 murder of the former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Sibiya said he knew the day was coming.

“He started to tell me about his knowledge or his involvement in the matter and I stopped him and I told him he was not compelled to make any confession and that he had the right to consult and that a lawyer could be provided to him at the state’s expense. And then he said ‘Right now, I don’t need a lawyer’,” says Mogola, an officer of 18 years of experience attached to the Cold Case Unit.

“That’s why I further asked him why he was telling me now. He even asked me what I meant by that. I told him you saw people were wrongfully arrested and the matter remains unresolved and why didn’t you come forward and tell the police that, like what you are telling me? And, my lord, he said he knew that one day he would have to take responsibility for the murder of Senzo Meyiwa.”

Gininda says when Mogola gave him this report as well as the fact that they would proceed to the hostel in Vosloorus for further investigations, he requested that they meet at the Vosloorus Police Station.

This, he says, is where he sought to hear the admissions from the horse’s mouth.

“I then asked Sgt Mogola and Mabena to excuse us as I needed to interview the accused. My lord, I told him he should feel free if was not comfortable with anything and that he should let me know and he said there was nothing. I also told him that the interview was in relation to Senzo Meyiwa’s murder.”

Proceedings on Monday adjourned before Gininda could let the court in on his engagement with Gininda, in a day that started with a physical brawl, with punches flying between the accused and one of the prison wardens, Vusi Jele, in court.

During the tea break, Jele could be heard ordering the accused who were sitting in the dock to go down, while they mumbled, seemingly in refusal to follow the instruction.

He approached them, shouting “You will go down.”

It was the warden that first elbowed accused 3, Mthobisi Mncube, before a full physical scuffle ensued between the warden, Mncube, Mthobisi Maphisa and Fisokuhle Ntuli.

The three accused, together with Sibiya and Bongani Ntanzi, are on trial for the murder of the former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper who was killed at his former girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo’s home in Vosloorus. This was when two intruders allegedly entered the house and demanded cellphones and money before a scuffle broke out during which Meyiwa was shot and killed.

They have all pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

According to Advocate Charles Mnisi on Monday, after consultation with his client, the accused were standing up to stretch themselves when they were confronted by the warden and instructed to sit as they sit during proceedings.

“Apparently, the gentleman would always command them to sit as they are sitting here as if the proceedings are on. He did that again and he told them if they didn’t want to take his instruction he will hit them. Then they said but this is an adjournment and he started to hit him with the shoulder. That’s the version I am getting,” says Mnisi.

Advocate Charles Nxumalo says he got the same version from the accused.

However, the warden contradicted this version saying he was merely doing his job of monitoring the accused in court when the scuffle broke out.

“Moments after the short adjournment, all the accused were standing … five or six minutes later accused 4 was sitting on top like this (demonstrating by sitting casually on top of a court bench). I said ‘Ntuli’ (referring to Maphisa)… I am not familiar with their names, I said ‘Ntuli, you cannot sit like that’. He said you can’t tell me how to sit. Three of them were now howling saying sizokushaya (we will beat you),” says Jele.

He says this was not the first time the accused had refused to take his instructions even though the first time it happened on the 15th it did not end up in a physical fight.

“On the 15th, they did the same thing and the fourth accused was doing the same thing. Before we went down, he was sitting like this (once again demonstrating by casually sitting on top of a court bench), and I shouted again and said ‘you cannot sit like that’. We went down and I called them and I tried to address them and they told me it was not my issue to worry about. The orderly even saw that. I told them they were wrong and that they were my responsibility and that is the reason why I am here throughout the proceedings,” he says.

He says today, they warned him not to come closer, before he did so and elbowing the third accused.

“They said sizokushaya (we’ll beat you up) if you come closer. I approached and I was trying to pull number 4. I went down like this and that is when I saw a blow coming my way. Accused 1 and 2 were not doing anything.”

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, after listening to the legal counsel and Jele, has advised all parties involved in the scuffle to respect the court decorum.

“Let’s behave ourselves. There is nothing wrong with stretching. You can even jump but this thing of fighting in parliament. But if the gentleman believes you are not maintaining the decorum of the court he is allowed to have a word with you,” says the judge.

The court will resume on Tuesday with Gininda back on the witness stand.

Senzo Meyiwa Murder Trial | 27 November 2023: