Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Senzo Meyiwa murder trial: Accused plead not guilty

All pre-trial issues have now been dealt with by the state and defence.

The five men accused of murdering former Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa have again pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

The trial, which has been ongoing for more than a year, got off to a bumpy start on Tuesday morning after one of the defence lawyers was unavailable.

The trial is now being presided over by retired Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, who replaced Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela after he was suspended last month by President Cyril Ramaphosa for failing to deliver reserved judgments on time.

Delayed start to trial proceedings

Proceedings only began at around 11am due to the unavailability of one of the defence lawyers who was tied up in a different matter in another courtroom.

ALSO READ: ‘The past is the past’: Senzo Meyiwa murder trial to restart on Tuesday

As if the delay in the trial was not enough, the judge also adjourned proceedings for 30 minutes in order for the defence lawyers to explain to their clients the charges preferred against them by the state before they could make their pleas.

When trial proceedings resumed around 12pm, state prosecutor advocate George Baloyi said all the pre-trial issues were dealt with on Monday afternoon during a pre-trial conference and the accused tendered in their not guilty pleas.

The trial continues.

Key details of the case

  • The five accused are Muzikawukhulelwa Sthemba Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Ncube, Mthokoziseni Ziphozonke Maphisa and Sifisokuhle Ntuli.
  • They face charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances in connection with Meyiwa’s murder on 26 October 2014.
  • The footballer was gunned down in what has been described as a botched robbery at the family home of his then-lover, Kelly Khumalo, in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg.
  • The accused previously pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and while they remain behind bars, they are now eligible to apply for bail now that the trial is being restarted from scratch.

The trial is expected to continue for several months, with the state calling a number of witnesses, including the five witnesses who previously testified.

The defence lawyers are likely to challenge the state’s evidence and argue that their clients are innocent.

It is not yet clear when the trial will reach a verdict given that it had to be restarted from the beginning.

NOW READ: Ramaphosa suspends Meyiwa trial judge Maumela

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