Four men accused of the assassination-style murder of ANC-connected North West businessman Wandile Bozwana have pleaded not guilty in the High Court in Pretoria to his murder.
Sipho Hudla, Robert Mutapa and Vusi Mathibela gave no explanation to their plea of not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition while a fourth accused, Paul Khumalo, said he had nothing to do with the crimes, and had never been in the illegal possession of firearms.
The state alleges that the four had in October 2015 murdered Bozwana and attempted to murder his female companion by opening fire on them in their car in an ambush at the traffic light on the Garsfontein off ramp on the N1 highway in the east of Pretoria.
Bozwana was shot numerous times and died in hospital while his companion sustained two gunshot wounds, but survived.
Mathibela was earlier granted R50 000 bail, but his co-accused were refused bail.
Bozwana, a billionaire businessman, was the chairperson of the North West Business Forum.
Members of the Forum at the time said they believed a hit was ordered on Bozwana in a bid to silence him because he spoke out against corruption and the alleged blacklisting of some companies by the provincial government.
City Press reported in June 2016 that the North West government had approached the Constitutional Court to try and stop Bozwana from attaching 44 government-owned vehicles and a state bank account, seeking payment of over R40 million he was owed for the construction of a hospital in Brits.
The trial was yesterday delayed when Bozwana’s female companion took the stand and was about to testify on CCTV footage, but the defence objected to the footage and still photos taken from it, saying it was not relevant, the photos appeared to be copies of copies of copies, and the state would have to prove the authenticity of the footage.
The state will on Tuesday commence with a trial-within-a-trial about the admissibility of the footage.