Your inaction led to a man's wrongful arrest: Lawyer to witness in Senzo Meyiwa trial
A defence lawyer in the Senzo Meyiwa trial questioned police constable Sizwe Skhumbuzo Zungu on why he did not act immediately if he had information that could have helped solve the murder, if true.
Zungu is testifying in the Pretoria high court in the trial of five men accused of the murder of the footballer in Vosloorus in October 2014.
In his evidence, he said he saw them celebrating Meyiwa's death over whisky on the night of the murder, before anyone knew of the shooting, after they had left and returned to the Vosloorus hostel. Two of them were carrying firearms. Zungu had spent the day at the hostel with his nephew, who lived there.
Shortly after the murder, police had arrested Zamokuhle Mbatha, a Vosloorus resident, after he was allegedly identified by a witness during an identity parade. However, charges were withdrawn due to insufficient evidence after Mbatha spent two weeks in custody.
The case stalled until a team of investigators traced the firearm used in the shooting and discovered it had been seized by police during a 2015 taxi-related murder investigation.
In 2020, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli were arrested.
Zungu said he only realised the value of what he had witnessed in 2018.
This was after the case had been handed to Col Bongani Gininda, who was leading a team revisiting cold cases.
He said he came forward with the information by telling his cluster commander what he had witnessed. The next month a man related to two of the accused threatened to kill him, he alleged, which confirmed his suspicions that they were linked to Meyiwa's murder.
Zungu's name was withheld from public knowledge until the prosecution called him to the witness stand due to concerns about his safety. He is escorted to court and has protection services personnel seated behind him while he testifies.
During cross-examination on Tuesday, Zungu was grilled about why he had not come forward sooner.
Referring to Mbatha, defence advocate Zithulele Nxumalo said a suspect had been wrongly arrested while Zungu, a police officer, sat on the information.
“Your behaviour, your attitude after that, is going to haunt you. Because as a member of SAPS, a person is arrested, you have information or knowledge about the people who were involved, you don't do nothing. For a case which would have been solved as early as 2014 — you having this information,” he said.
Zungu said the investigating officers had a right to their own inquiries and he would not have interfered in their work. Their exchange included:
- Nxumalo: “As a Saps official, you see an exchange of firearms in the hostel and you do nothing?”
- Zungu: “I did something, that's why we are here in court today.”
- Nxumalo: “You did that after, years later, but I am talking about that year, in October 2014, you didn't do anything.”
- Zungu: “I didn't have to do it at that time. I had to do it at the right time, such as this one.”
The trial continues.
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