Illness delays muti murder case

Mbombela - The trial of two people implicated in the murder of a six-year-old Mpumalanga girl was postponed on Wednesday because the defence lawyer was absent for medical reasons.

Sifiso Vilakazi, 25, and Thabile Mnisi, 33, appeared briefly in the Nelspruit Circuit of the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday morning. Judge Collin Lamont postponed the case to Thursday.

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They have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and to conspiracy to commit murder, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Their co-accused, Jeremiah Ngwenya, 30, Judas Mandlazi, 25, and Stella Zulu, 49, who had been out on R5000 bail since the trial started in 2009, were acquitted of the charges.

Vilakazi and Mnisi are both out on R3000 bail. They are accused of killing Dimakatso Shabangu, who went missing on April 21, 2009.

On Tuesday, the girl's mother, Goodness Mahlalela, 33, from Masibekela, testified that her child went missing while in the care of Mnisi, her child minder.

Witness Sifiso Comfort Mbokodo, 29, related how he and his late brother discovered Dimakatso's body floating in a river on April 25 that year. He said he called the police and when they failed to arrive, he arranged transport to the local police station. He reported the matter and led police to the girl's body.

“When we arrived we found her in the same place where I left her and the police took her. She was still in the water,” he said.