South Africa

Senzo Meyiwa trial: Confusion as witness changes testimony after being pressed by defence

There was confusion in court after a state witness changed his testimony about what he said in relation to the murder of former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.

Msizi Jack Buthelezi took the stand as a new state witness in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday following the conclusion of warrant officer Thabo Mosia’s cross-examination.

The state called Buthelezi to testify in relation to accused two Bongani Ntanzi, whom he first met at a ceremony in 2008 and became acquainted.

During his cross-examination, Buthelezi clarified that Ntanzi told him that he was arrested because the police claimed the suspect and his friends killed Meyiwa on 26 October 2014.

The witness changed his initial version after being pressed by Ntanzi’s lawyer Advocate Sipho Ramosepele.

Evidence

Earlier in the proceedings, Buthelezi told the court he started living with Ntanzi at a hostel in Rustenburg, North West, in 2019 and that the accused would at times visit Johannesburg.

The witness said one day he was informed that Ntanzi had been arrested.

“In the morning, Ntanzi himself called me. He said he was going to appear in court and asked him to come see him in the Tlhabane Court in Phokeng. I went there, but when I got there we didn’t see each other. We slightly missed each other,” he said.

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Buthelezi said they eventually met in the Rustenburg city center when Ntanzi was in the custody of police.

“After I got into the [police] vehicle, I asked what happened. He said to me I had been arrested pertaining to the illegal possession of ammunition and [Meyiwa’s shooting].

“He said it was Maphisa and them when he referred to his friends. He said they killed Meyiwa. I then took R500 out of my pocket and gave it to him and he turned away from me and started crying. That was the last I saw of him,” Buthelezi added.

Cross-examination

Ramosepele later tested Buthelezi’s version of events, with the advocate informing the witness that the reason that Ntanzi wanted to see him was because he had not had a bath from 16 June 2020 to 13 July 2020 and needed toiletries.

“He instructs me that he was arrested on the 16th, assaulted by the police over a number of days and they didn’t take him to appear for the first time in court within 48 hours of his arrest as required by the law.

“He said the police would only take the docket to court saying he was sick while he was left him in the cell. And that on that day of the 30th of July, that was his first appearance since his arrest.

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“Now he called you to come and assist him because he was smelly as he hadn’t changed clothes. Therefore, he requested you to buy toiletries for him and that’s when indeed you produced the R500 and it gave to him,” Ramosepele explained.

“What he told you is that not he as Ntanzi said ‘I killed Senzo’… he says the police said they arrested me because I was with Maphisa while we were at a party and killed Senzo,” the advocate said.

Buthelezi then changed his bombshell testimony, much to the shock of the court.

“He said the police said they killed Meyiwa,” the witness responded.

‘You get scared’

Under Advocate Zandile Mshololo’s cross-examination, Buthelezi revealed that he made a statement after he was called in by the police.

“They came to fetch me at my house and they asked me what is it that I was talking about with Ntanzi in the vehicle. They were writing down. I was caught by surprise that how is it now that I am being arrested because I was called to see [Ntanzi],” he said.

Asked whether he was pressured to make the statement, Buthelezi said he was afraid so he cooperated with police.

“As people you get scared when you speak to a police officer… you then follow the direction you are being led to by the police officer.”

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