Meyiwa trial: Defence seeks its own ballistics expert to counter expert's evidence linking gun to accused

The five accused in the Senzo Mayiwa murder trial stand in the dock at the Pretoria high court on July 17 2023. File photo.
The five accused in the Senzo Mayiwa murder trial stand in the dock at the Pretoria high court on July 17 2023. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe

The defence in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial is seeking its own ballistics expert to counter the evidence of state ballistics expert Lt-Col Christian Mangena.

On Thursday, the defence's cross-examination of Mangena, which was expected to get underway, was postponed for it to get an opportunity to consult its own ballistics expert.

Attorney Sipho Ramosepele informed the Pretoria high court that their ballistics expert had sent a letter informing them that he was not available as he was in Uganda.

The expert indicated he will be back in the country on September 6.

“He will consult with us during the weekend of September 9-11. However, from there he is tied up in a matter in the Eastern Cape High Court for 10 days. He will come again for a second round of consultation with us should the need arise and from there he is back to Durban in the high court for three days,” he said.

He said the expert's scheduling and diary was tight for the remainder of the year.

He said on Thursday morning he and his colleagues received an e-mail indicating another ballistics expert was willing to assist.

“We haven't met him, but we will consult with him in due course in case Mr De Klerk is not available this year so that the matter is expedited,” said Ramosepele.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng said the request was reasonable and Mangena's cross-examination would be stood down until further advice is received from the defence.

“The accused are entitled to be accorded the fullest opportunity to conduct their defence so that the interests of justice are satisfied. I am sure that this is a reasonable request, which makes this court amenable to postpone the matter as announced by the defence counsel. So we will adjourn your cross-examination until we are advised further,” he said.

Mokgoatlheng said the trial will continue on Friday with other witnesses. 

On Wednesday, Mangena, who was also involved in reconstructing the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp by Paralympian Oscar Pistorius and whistle-blower Babita Deokaran confirmed to the court that the gun found on Mthobisi Prince Mncube when he was arrested in a separate matter in 2015 — a year after Senzo Meyiwa's killing — is the same one that killed Meyiwa.

Mangena testified he was able to determine this after examining the projectile found on the kitchen counter at the crime scene and test bullets fired from the gun found in Mncube's possession.

He testified the bullet that struck Meyiwa “perforated his body and hit the door behind him”.

Mangena said the shooter was probably in front of the deceased and the firearm in contact with his chest. He added that he could not rule out the possibility of an altercation or struggle between Meyiwa and the shooter.

On the prime residue tests, Mangena said the people who were nearby when the shot was fired and those who touched the deceased could test positive for primer residue.

But in this case, it would have been a futile exercise to test the people.

Mangena explained to the court that the bullet that hit the tile was fragmented because the tile was harder than the soft bullet. “So on impact, the bullet fragmented,” he said.

If somebody was close to the area, it was likely they could have been hit by the fragments from that bullet.

Mangena said the bullet fragment he received from the crime scene is consistent with the complete metal jacket bullet that was deformed on impact with the tile.

Zandile Khumalo testified that when the first shot went off she was hit by a spark on her leg, sustaining a small bruise.

The matter has been rolled over to Friday for evidence from other witnesses.


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.