WATCH: ‘Sizokushaya’ – Scuffle breaks out in court during Senzo Meyiwa trial
'We must all behave like adults', the judge said on Monday.
Five accused men in the Senzo Mayiwa murder trial leave the dock at Pretoria High Court on 17 July 2023. Picture: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng called for the decorum of the court to be respected after a scuffle broke out in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial on Monday.
The trial resumed in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, where five men – Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Ntanzi, Mthobisi Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa, and Fisokuhle Ntuli – are on trial for Meyiwa’s murder.
The court is currently hearing evidence in a trial-within-a-trial to determine the admissibility of confession statements allegedly made by Ntanzi and Sibiya following their arrests in 2020.
‘Accused trying to ward off blows’
During the proceedings on Monday, a fight broke out between a prison warden and Mncube, Maphisa and Ntuli, as the court took a break from Sergeant Vusimuzi Mogane’s cross-examination by the defence.
Mncube’s lawyer, Advocate Charles Mnisi, said his client was trying to defend himself from “this huge gentleman”.
“He hit accused number three with his shoulder. I don’t know how it started, but that is what I saw,” he said.
After consulting his client, Mnisi told the court Mncube informed him the accused usually stood up to stretch during the breaks and the guard “did not take kind to that”.
“He is saying that in each case that the gentleman is here in court, he would command them to sit as they are seated now as if the court is still in process. But today what happened specifically, was he approached them again and said to them they should sit down. According to accused number three, he told them if they didn’t want to comply with his instructions he was going to hit them.
“Then they said ‘But this is an adjournment, we are entitled to stretch our legs because we have been sitting for more than two hours’ so he did not take kind to that and he started to hit him with a shoulder,” the defence lawyer explained.
Mnisi added that the accused were not retaliating.
“He was trying to ward off those blows that the gentleman was trying to administer to him. That is the version that I’m getting,” the advocate continued.
Sibiya and Ntanzi were not involved in the scuffle, according to the defence.
However, the prison warden explained that he had a problem with Maphisa sitting on top of the gallery partition.
“I said you cannot sit like that in court so he was like ‘No you not gonna tell me how to sit here’ and then I came closer telling him to sit in a proper way. The three of them were howling ‘sizokushaya‘ (we will hit you) if you start this thing of yours,” he told the court.
He also alleged that the accused told him his only job was to escort them to court.
Meanwhile, Mokgoatlheng called for calm in court.
“I’m not saying anybody is wrong because I wasn’t here, but I am told there was an undignified scuffle which took place during the tea break and my only admonition is we all are adults so we must all behave like adults,” he said.
“There’s nothing with you stretching, but if the gentleman believes that maybe that the decorum we should not be adopting I think he entitled to have a word with you. But this one of fighting like in our Parliament…. we don’t need that,” the judge added.