‘I’m not an idiot’: Judge warns accused in Senzo Meyiwa trial after ‘pulling trigger’ gesture
The accused, Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli, denied his gesture was directed at the witness.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng reacts during the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at Pretoria High Court on 17 July 2023. Picture: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe
A video clip from social media of accused number 5, Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli, was thrust into the spotlight at the Senzo Meyiwa trial on Friday.
State prosecutor advocate George Baloyi told the Pretoria High Court the accused was seen in the video clip making a hand gesture similar to that of pulling a trigger.
The accused made the hand gesture and facial expressions towards the witness, police constable Skhumbuzo Zungu.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng asked the accused what he was conveying in the video, to which the accused said he does not remember.
“I don’t remember what it was we were talking about because the person being referred to (the witness) is seated and I couldn’t see him. He was obscured by the interpreter,” said the accused.
Watch the proceedings here:
Ntuli’s lawyer Zandile Mshololo said she consulted with him and he denied his hand gesture was that of pulling a trigger.
“When I asked him what he was doing, he denied he was referring to the witness when he spoke with the gesture depicted in the video clip,” said Mshololo.
No formal inquiry
Baloyi said a gesture of the pulling of a trigger was “very serious”. He said he won’t insist on a formal inquiry but wants the court to admonish the accused.
He also requests that the court reprimand the accused and remind him that tampering with a witness could be considered as contempt of court.
Mshololo said while she appreciates the state bringing this to their attention, the court should also admonish witnesses, referring to state witness Tumelo Madlala who allegedly insulted the accused.
“If the state was serious and aware of what was being brought to the attention of this court, this ought would have been brought when Tumelo insulted our clients and the state did nothing.
“As much as our clients should not act in any manner, the witnesses must be warned too,” she said.
Judge Mokgoatlheng said he knew all the “tricks” of a courtroom.
“Angis’yimpatha (I am not an idiot),” said the judge.
“I saw it. The accused are warned to desist from disturbing the decorum of this court while witnesses are giving evidence. No gestures should be made to distract any witness.”
Mokgoatlheng emphasised that a criminal case was not a joke.