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Scuffle at Meyiwa trial ‘was long coming’

Judge warns accused to behave

Correctional services warden Enerst Jele is manhandled by three accused in the Senzo Meyiwa case – Mthobisi Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Fisokuhle Ntuli – in court on Monday.
Correctional services warden Enerst Jele is manhandled by three accused in the Senzo Meyiwa case – Mthobisi Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Fisokuhle Ntuli – in court on Monday.
Image: NEWZROOM AFRIKA/ LINDA MNISI

A prison guard in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial said his scuffle in court with some of the men accused of killing the former Bafana Bafana keeper was  long coming.

On Monday, warden Enerst Jele got into a fight in court with three accused – Mthobisi Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Fisokuhle Ntuli – which caught everyone by surprise at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

The incident happened during the court adjournment in the absence of presiding Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, who was later informed about the fight and called Jele to explain what had happened. 

The warden told the court that he got into the scuffle after he asked the accused not to sit on top of the court benches. The other accused, Muzi Sibiya and Bongani Ntanzi stood and watched. 

Jele described the incident as a ticking time bomb that was waiting to explode after he reprimanded the men two  weeks ago. 

“On the 15th, it was Wednesday, I told them that, ‘no guys, yes, it’s an adjournment but you cannot sit like that [siting on top on the bench], and when we got down [to the cells], I called out them to stop that thing. And they told me that it is not my job and my job is only to escort them, and that’s when I told them they are wrong,” said Jele.

He further explained to court that on Monday during the short adjournment the accused shouted at him for reprimanding them.

“I said, ‘Ntuli, you cannot sit like that, they hauled and said ‘sizo kushaya if uyasondela’ [we will beat you if you come closer],” he said.

“Accused 3 [Mncube] was closer, I went down like I was kneeling going for accused 4 [Maphisa], then I saw a blow coming my way. The first one was accused 3 [Mncube] and 5 [Ntuli]. I was trying to duck and eventually my colleagues came closer. They were now all standing,” he said.

Meanwhile, defence lawyer Adv Charles Mnisi said his client [Mncube] engaged in the scuffle due to the mistreatment they [accused] had received from Jele.

“Apparently what I am getting from accused number three [Mncube] is that when there is adjournment, they [accused] would stand up in order to stretch themselves and apparently the warden does not take kindly to that, and they are saying that each time the gentleman [Jele] is in court he will command them to sit as if the court is still in process.

“And today, he approached them and told them to sit down and if they don’t want to sit down he will hit them,” Mnisi said.

Mokgoatlheng asked state prosecutor Adv George Baloyi to read Criminal Procedure Act on section 159[1], which states that the court proceedings can continue in the absence of the accused if they do not conduct themselves in a good manner.  

Addressing all involved, Mokgoatlheng  advised them to use words to resolve disagreements.


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