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Judge adjourns Meyiwa case for struggling Sgt Mosia to get a Sotho interpreter

Witness had difficulty following questions

There was a language barrier when Sgt Thabo Mosia was being questioned on Thursday.
There was a language barrier when Sgt Thabo Mosia was being questioned on Thursday.
Image: Antonio Muchave

The trial of the five men accused of killing Senzo Meyiwa had to take a short adjournment after the judge realised that the state’s first witness, Sgt Thabo Mosia, needs an interpreter.

Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela noticed very early during Mosia’s questioning by Adv Zandile Mshololo that Mosia was not following questions put to him properly.

“I know that you have been testifying in English. As you know, all of us can speak English to a certain point, we all have limits. If it comes to where you need interpretation, it won't be a wrong thing to ask for interpretation. It is upon you to say, 'now I need an interpreter', so that you testify freely,” said Maumela.

Mosia agreed to get a Sotho interpreter.

He has been on the witness stand for nine days taking questions in English and responding in the same language. The only interpretation that has been taking place in court was in Zulu, for the benefit of the accused.

Maumela noticed that there was a language barrier when Mosia was asked who was supposed to be the custodian of the disc containing original photographs of the crime scene.

Mosia sat quietly until Maumela intervened, explaining the question to him.

Mshololo spent the first hour questioning Mosia as to why he took instructions from Brig Philani Ndlovu who was on the scene and had no expertise in forensic investigations.

Mosia maintained that when he was made aware that the case involved a popular person, he had to wait for the crime scene management task team to do the rest.

“The only thing I could do is to secure the projectile and the hat,” Mosia said.

Meyiwa was killed at his then girlfriend Kelly Khumalo’s home in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, in an alleged robbery that shocked the nation.

Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli have been charged with his murder. The five face charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, possession of firearms without a licence and possession of ammunition.

Police maintained a heavy presence inside the courtroom. As Mosia gave evidence, the five men sat looking down for most of the testimony.

The courtroom was full on Thursday with new faces in the public gallery.

A Sotho interpreter was secured and the trial continues.