Meyiwa trial: Judge wants Legal Aid Board to take the stand

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng has called for the head of the Legal Aid Board to testify in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial following delays in the proceedings.

The court was poised to hear the cross-examination of Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Mangena, a pivotal witness in the case, when the defence declared their unpreparedness on Monday, citing a pending application for funding a ballistic expert.

State advocate George Baloyi provided the court with an update on the situation, revealing that the defence had submitted an application to the Legal Aid Board for financing the cost of their expert.

Judge expresses dismay

However, Mokgoatlheng expressed dismay at the prolonged delay, highlighting that Mangena’s testimony had taken place eight months prior and yet consultations by the defence had not been pursued.

Expressing his dissatisfaction, Mokgoatlheng directed Baloyi to summon the head of the Legal Aid Board to appear in court on Tuesday to clarify whether funding would indeed be provided for the defence’s consultation with their chosen ballistic expert.

“You know what surprises me; the evidence of the ballistic expert was led in August, and the case was then postponed on the basis that the defence wants to consult. After eight months, this has not been done,” fumed Mokgoatlheng.

Cellphone evidence under scrutiny

Amid these developments, the court also heard testimony from Sibusiso Yaka regarding the discovery of a cellphone in the possession of accused number five, Fisokuhle Ntuli.

Yaka, who served as the head of Qalakabushe Prison until his retirement in September 2021, recounted receiving a call in August 2020, prompting him to undertake an operation at the prison.

Yaka testified that upon arriving at the designated section, he instructed Ntuli to surrender the cellphone, which the accused readily complied with.

The phone, identified as a black Stylo, was then handed over to investigators for further examination.

However, during cross-examination by the defence, discrepancies emerged regarding the number of individuals present in the cell where the cellphone was found.

While Yaka asserted that there were three males present, Ntuli purportedly denied this, claiming only two individuals were in the cell.

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