‘I can’t be friends with criminals’, cop tells court in Senzo Meyiwa trial
The defence continued with the cross-examination of the state witness on Monday.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng during the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at Pretoria High Court on 17 July 2023. Picture: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe
A police officer has denied being friends with the five men accused of murdering former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.
Constable Sizwe Skhumbuzo Zungu returned to the witness stand in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
Zungu previously testified he “partied” with all five men at a hostel in Vosloorus on 26 October 2014, when Meyiwa was killed.
The witness was visiting his brother’s son, Gwabini Zungu.
‘I am a police officer’
During cross-examination, Advocate Zithulele Nxumalo, representing accused four Mthokoziseni Maphisa, argued his client did not know Zungu and was never in his presence.
“He is not your acquaintance. He met you for the first time in court,” he said.
According to Nxumalo, Maphisa disputes knowing accused two, Bongani Ntanzi before Meyiwa was killed
He said they only met during their first appearance at the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on 27 October 2020.
“I wouldn’t have knowledge of that. I was not there,” Zungu responded.
Nxumalo, however, revealed that Maphisa knew accused number one, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, through the suspect’s mother who was his neighbour in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
The lawyer said Maphisa was friends with accused number three, Mthobisi Mncube, while he was an acquaintance of accused number four, Fisokuhle Ntuli.
“I cannot dispute that. If they are friends then they are friends. They are not my friends [because] I am a police officer. I cannot be friends with criminals,” Zungu said before Advocate Charles Mnisi objected.
“It is defaming… who is a criminal?” Mnisi asked.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng then warned Zungu, who apologised, not to use “character assassination language” in court.
Nxumalo further asked Zungu why he did not make any arrests when he saw the exchanging of firearms at Gwabini’s place.
“You didn’t do anything [despite] being a police member,” he quizzed Zungu.
But the witness chose not to answer the question as it could incriminate him.
Zungu, in his evidence-in-chief, had told the court he was suspicious of Sibiya, Ntanzi, and Mncube after he saw them rushing back to the hostel in the evening, having left for quite some time on the day Meyiwa was killed.
The witness revealed that he saw Sibiya and Mncube carrying firearms – a .38 Special revolver and 9mm parabellum pistol – in Gwabini’s room.
The police officer’s own state firearm was in the same room.
“I then asked Gwabini about my firearm, and he gave it to me. I smelled my firearm because I could see that there was something suspicious going on. I placed it in my possession and took the .38 Special from accused one and looked at it,” Zungu said on 7 September.
Zungu explained that he asked Gwabini why he was issuing guns at the hostel.
“The manner in which they came in made me suspicious,” the witness said at the time.
Watch the proceedings below:
Meanwhile, Nxumalo put it to Zungu on Monday that his client denied being at the hostel on the day in question nor was he in the company of the other accused.
Zungu, however, pointed out that Maphisa personally gave him his state vehicle keys.
“Did he tell you where he got the keys from?” Nxumalo asked.
To which Zungu replied: “He did not. He just came to me, apologised and gave the keys back to me. Maphisa told me that Gwabini had phoned them to bring back the keys.”
The witness, in his statement deposed on 31 May 2023, said he did not know how the keys were taken out of his bag, which was also in Gwabini’s room.