Ailing judge Maumela stalls proceedings in Senzo Meyiwa trial

The Pretoria High Court has postponed the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial citing the ill-health of presiding judge Tshifhiwa Maumela.

According to deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba, who stood in for Maumela on Monday, the sickly presiding judge may not be back on the case for a long time, as instructed by his doctors.

“The reason I am here today is because my colleague, judge Maumela, is ill and may not be here for a very long time,” said Ledwaba.

Ledwaba said arrangements have been made for the trial to proceed, so that it can be finished as soon as possible, considering the amount of attention it has garnered.

“For that reason, the trial cannot proceed today, as it was scheduled to proceed from today to Thursday,” he said.

In May, the trial was postponed to allow for one of the defence lawyers to attend to another court matter. The trial will now resume on July 17.

Zandie Khumalo, one of the witnesses present when Meyiwa was shot and killed at the home of his then girlfriend Kelly Khumalo in Vosloorus on October 26 2014, had taken the stand giving her account of the incident.

She, like the first witness Tumelo Madlala, singled out accused number two Bongani Ntanzi as one of the two men who allegedly invaded the house and gunned down the late national football team goalie.

Giving an account of the events that followed the shooting, she testified that her nervousness prevented her from dialing 10111, the emergency police number.

Instead, she sought help by rushing to the house of Maggie Phiri, a friend of her mother Ntombi Khumalo, to raise the alarm.

As Khumalo relived the heartbreaking ordeal, she broke down in tears while describing her attempts to keep Meyiwa awake during their rush to the hospital, vividly recalling the chilling sensation of his body growing colder as they pleaded with him to hold on to life.

Upon arrival at the hospital, Khumalo said she and her sister Kelly pleaded with the medical staff for assistance, noting that Meyiwa was rushed into a medical room while they were directed to a waiting area.

She testified: “I walked into the hospital and pleaded for assistance, some of the officials then followed me out to the car with a stretcher. The officials then took him out of the car. We stood aside with Kelly and the others comforting each other.

“They took Senzo into the hospital room on a stretcher. We followed behind and they told us that we were not allowed access to the medical room, but that we should wait by the waiting area.”

Moments later, their worst fears were confirmed when a medical practitioner approached to deliver the devastating news of Meyiwa’s passing.

“My mother came towards us and she was in the company of one of the medical practitioners. I believe it was the doctor who told us that Senzo is no more. Kelly asked to go and see him and asked me to come with her.

“Kelly and I went into the room and she started talking to him [Meyiwa]. I do not remember what she said to him, she then kissed him on the forehead. She removed his earrings and I think his watch, as well.”

The emotional toll continued to mount as Khumalo described the arrival of Mandisa, whom she referred to as Senzo’s partner, along with a group of other people.

According to Khumalo, Mandisa and her friends assaulted Kelly, blaming her for Meyiwa’s death. Amid the chaos, Khumalo intervened, appealing for calm and emphasizing that Meyiwa detested hostility.

As the events unfolded, Khumalo said she received a call from a concerned acquaintance, Mama Joy, a former staunch supporter of Orlando Pirates, who wept upon learning of Meyiwa’s passing.

The court heard that Khumalo, Kelly, and the others eventually left the hospital to return home, only to find their residence cordoned off with a police crime-scene tape.

In the midst of the commotion, Khumalo said she noticed bloodstains on her clothing and sought to change into a black coat.

She further told the court that inside their home, she saw Meyiwa’s phone and various items related to the incident, including a crutch and a hat worn by one of the intruders.

However, she could not recall the appearance of the first intruder whom she described as someone with shoulder-length dreadlocks, and clarified that none of the accused individuals matched his description.

During her testimony, she mentioned that they had plans to attend a party but were delayed, leading them to return home for lunch prepared by her mother.

They arrived home between 4pm and 5pm, and were greeted by a cheerful atmosphere in the house. Khumalo recalled serving drinks to the occupants.

“We had a meal and it was cheerful in the house, and I was the one who was serving drinks,” she said.

According to her, two intruders entered the house and demanded money and cellphones.

She told the court that Longwe Twala pushed the first intruder and fled while Kelly sought refuge in the bedroom opposite the kitchen, with the second intruder following closely behind, attempting to gain entry.

Tension mounted and everyone in the house sprang into action, confronting the intruders and pushing them towards the kitchen. Kelly is said to have joined the struggle, supporting Meyiwa in his altercation with one of the gunmen.

Contrary to previous witnesses’ accounts, Khumalo stated that three shots were fired that fateful night, with the third shot sounding different from the first two.

She said the first gunshot occurred while she, her mother, sister, Tumelo Madlala, and Meyiwa were in the kitchen. She then heard the second and and a third shot while hiding.

The five men on trial for the murder of Meyiwa – Bongani Ntanzi, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Mthobisi Ncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa, and Fisokuhle Ntuli – have pleaded not guilty.


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