I'll defend myself, says murder accused Wisani

Johannesburg - No lawyer is good enough for murder accused Patrick Wisani. This emerged in court on Tuesday when he decided to represent himself after yet another advocate withdrew from the trial.

Just when the trial seemed ready to get under way, legal aid lawyer, advocate Andile Mavatha, who was on Monday appointed to represent Wisani, indicated that there was a dispute between him and his client.

“I am ready to proceed. However, there is one challenge I’m facing at the moment. My client, Mr Wisani... gave me a specific instruction... on how I should present evidence...

“I’m in a very compromised position now, because as a court official I cannot carry that out,” he told the high court sitting in Randburg.

After a short adjournment, Mavatha applied to withdraw as Wisani’s lawyer.

Wisani addressed Judge Mohamed Ismail: “My lord, I will proceed and represent myself. I accept his (Mavatha’s) application.”

Judge Ismail asked him numerous times if he was sure he wanted to defend himself and offered to find him a different legal aid lawyer.

He also emphasised the seriousness of the charge against him. “This is not a trifling little charge of shoplifting or negligent driving. It’s a serious matter... if you're convicted, there’s a possibility you could be given a life sentence.”

Despite this, Wisani opted for the trial to resume, defending himself.

He is accused of sjambokking his girlfriend Nosipho Mandleleni to death on September 5 last year.

Two witnesses described how they heard Mandleleni’s screams on the night of her murder. Zukiswa Solani, who lived in the same Yeoville house as the couple, said their loud arguing had woken her around 4am.

Mandleleni’s twin sister Siphokazi said she knocked on Wisani’s bedroom door when she heard her sister’s cries. “Patrick opened the door. I said to him I’m tired of him beating Nosipho.”

Wisani, who was allegedly holding a broken, bloodied broomstick, pushed Siphokazi away before closing his door.

Siphokazi also told the court how Wisani intimidated and assaulted her and a friend, Zimbini Mathibe in May, urging her not to testify against him in court.

“He said he’ll kill me as he killed my sister... He slapped me. He hit me with his fist, then he kicked me and I fell on the ground,” she said.

“When Zimbine tried to stop him, he slapped her, then he throttled her.”

As Wisani stood at the advocate’s podium, instead of in the dock, the clinking of his ankle shackles could be heard as he cross-examined the witnesses.

Judge Ismail explained to Wisani how the court process worked, occasionally interrupting him to advise him.