Meyiwa trial: Scuffle erupts between wardens and accused

A scuffle between prison wardens and men accused of killing soccer star Senzo Meyiwa broke out during tea break at the Pretoria High Court on Monday.

The incident occurred amid the ongoing trial within a trial which is focusing on the admissibility of two alleged confessions made by the first and second accused, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya and Bongani Ntanzi.

Sibiya and Ntanzi have argued that they were subjected to severe assault and torture to coerce them into signing confession statements.

The defence has sought to establish connections between the stops made by the police while escorting Ntanzi and the alleged mistreatment he experienced.

Monday’s proceedings were meant to include the cross-examination of Sergeant Vusumuzi Mogane, which had been postponed to accommodate the testimony of car tracker expert Michael du Preez.

The state aimed to use the automatic vehicle locating system to trace the movements of a vehicle used to transport Ntanzi to various locations including Moroka police station.

However, the court was momentarily thrown into chaos when a scuffle erupted during tea break.

According to the accused’s legal representatives, prison wardens approached the accused and instructed them to sit properly, while the accused argued that they wanted to stretch.

The defence alleges that Mthobisi Mncube, accused number three, was struck on the shoulder by a prison guard.

Accused blamed for scuffle

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng called a prison guard to testify in response to the incident.

The guard explained that accused number four, Mthokoziseni Maphisa, was sitting on top of the bench, and he instructed them not to sit in that manner.

The guard claimed that three of the accused threatened him, saying sizokushaya (we will beat you up).

During his testimony, the prison guard emphasised that he repeatedly told the accused not to sit on top of the benches and asserted that his role was to escort them to court.

The judge intervened, urging both parties to maintain decorum in the courtroom.

“I am not saying that anybody is wrong because I was not here, but I was told that there was some undignified scuffle which took place during tea break,” said Mokgoatlheng.

“We all are adults and [we] must all behave like adults.

“The [prison warden] has his own brief about how people must be seated. Let’s behave ourselves.

“There is nothing wrong with stretching, you can even jump. This kind of fighting, like in our parliament, we don’t need that. Ubuntu! Resolve issues by speaking.”

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