3 more found guilty in massacre trial

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

A Johannesburg high court judge has blamed members of a defence team of three men he found guilty - of not doing their job properly.

Sizwe Mbuyazi, 27, Khumbulani Mabaso, 35, and Sizwe Dlamini, 23, were convicted in the "Jeppestown massacre" trial yesterday.

Convicting the three, Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng questioned why their versions of what happened were never put forward during cross-examination of the main state witness, Sergeant Willem "Wimpie" van Niekerk.

Mabaso claimed to have been hired to transport certain people from Honeydew to Jeppestown and ended up at the house. He claimed he was in the passage of the house when the shooting started.

However, Mabaso's defence counsel Oscar Ncoko chose not to cross-examine Van Niekerk, leaving his testimony that all the accused were inside a bedroom unchallenged.

Mabaso, Mbuyazi and Dlamini's versions were only put forward in court after Van Niekerk had testified.

Mbuyazi claimed that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He said he had gone to the Jeppestown house to fetch his cousin's car which had been borrowed by a "Paul Nhlapho" who was in the house.

Mbuyazi said he only entered the house to use the toilet, only to be met by gunfire. He claimed he lay on his stomach inside the toilet throughout the shooting.

But, the judge dismissed Mbuyazi's version, saying that the space between the bathtub and the toilet was too small for a man his size. He also said that "Nhlapho" did not exist because he was not among the arrested or the dead.

Dlamini claimed to have been a taxi driver who was hijacked by the robbers. His evidence was found to full of contradictions. The statement he made during his bail application contradicted with his testimony during the trial.

Five of the 13 original accused have been convicted already.

They were charged with robbery and 12 counts of murder after robbing a supermarket before engaging in a shootout with a police unit in Jeppestown.

Four policemen and eight robbers died in the ensuing gun battle.