NICOLE VAN WYK
The husband of Bianca Warburton came face to face with her alleged killers for the first time at the Johannesburg High Court on Monday.
Clifford Warburton sat silently in the presence of the three men accused of attempting to hijack and then murdering his wife. An air of hostility was undeniable as Mr Warburton looked intently at the men sitting in the docks while the state presented its closing arguments to the court.
An intense exchange of menacing glares later ensued between Mr Warburton and one of the accused, Sthembiso Mseleku as the three accused descended back into their holding cells upon adjournment of the court.
Mseleku is identified by the state as the main perpetrator in the shooting and killing of Bianca Warburton which took place in October last year. Evidence presented by the court to support this is the fact that two eyewitnesses, whom the state describe as “excellent witnesses” that are “truthful and reliable”, both fingered Mseleku as the shooter at the scene of the crime.
It was also stated that his early admission of the crime to Colonel Fanie van der Watt directly incriminates him, along with his own evidence and account of his testimony which the state referred to as “contradictory and highly improbable”.
State advocate Herman Broodryk noted that Mseleku was a “spectacularly bad” witness who appeared fidgety and gave evidence in arrogance that was “fraught with inconsistencies, improbabilities and outright lies”.
Speaking of the second accused, Mphumzeni Gumede, the state described him as an unimpressive witness. “[He] ought to be labelled as a crafty and deceitful witness,” Broodryk stated to the court. His statement was owing to the testimony made by Gumede which, according to the state, was also inconsistent and evasive.
The state suggested that Gumede be charged, on one of four other counts, as an accessory after the fact to attempted robbery and murder, thus not excluding him from the crime scene and also alluding to the suspicion surrounding his possession of the firearm used in the shooting.
The third accused, Moffat Mthonti, had already been excluded from the scene by a witness but the state remained sceptical of his testimony and adjustment of evidence. Conviction is sought by the state for all three of the accused in the case.
A teary-eyed Mr Warburton left the courtroom seeking to offer no comments on the case or the accused.
Closing arguments by the defence are expected to be heard on Tuesday morning.