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Judge gets tough on wife killer

Crime & Courts

Pietermaritzburg - ‘I don’t want to hear any more excuses. If I hear any more excuses your bail will be revoked and you will go to jail.”

This was the stern warning given to Howick resident Sunesh Manilall by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Gregory Kruger on Monday, when Manilall’s appeal against his conviction and sentence for the murder of his wife was again postponed.

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200509 ADVOCATE MAY HAVE TO STEP DOWN Witness tells court |his evidence was a lie PIETERMARITZBURG BUREAU CONFUSION has reigned in a murder trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court with the State undecided on its next step because of a witness spilling all the details of the events leading to the crime and then recanting everything. State advocate Dalene Barnard now has to research whether she should remain in the Victor Mbatha, Sunesh Manilall and Mumtaz Osman trial, or step down. They are alleged to have murdered Manilall’s former wife Monika Manilall at her Howick West home in February, 2006. The trial was running smoothly until the gunman, Siyabonga Mdlalose, who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the murder in 2008, changed his mind, saying he knew nothing about the murder. Mdlalose had revealed his role in the killing, implicating the three accused, and on the second day of being under cross-examination he said his testimony had been a lie. After his arrest, said Mdlalose, he pleaded guilty as police had told him that it would be beneficial to him, but instead he was sentenced to life|imprisonment. He also said that the only reason he had testified in the case was because police had told him that his sentence would be reduced. He also now claims that everything he had known about the case was what police had told him. He said that Barnard was also present when he was told by police to testify in the case and that he had told her that he knew nothing about the case. Barnard told the court yesterday that it was a very complex matter and if the law suggested she should step down she would. The three defence legal representatives said that allegations made by Mdlalose were serious and it raised questions on whether their clients were having a fair trial or not. They indicated they would ask the court to test the allegations in a trial within a trial. Judge Herbert Msimang pointed out that the couple were out on bail and that Mbatha was in custody, having been denied bail three times, and that an adjournment would infringe on Mbatha’s rights. Barnard said that her position would be clarified before the next adjournment and if she had to step down she would brief someone else before the trial resumed. The hearing was adjourned to December.

Manilall told the court on Monday he was not able to pay his advocate to represent him and requested the full bench appeal be postponed to allow him to raise funds.

Manilall’s attorney, Kogilan Chetty, also requested that Manilall’s bail be amended to allow him to conduct his newly established tow trucking company.

This, Chetty said, would allow Manilall to raise the necessary funds to finance his appeal.

Chetty asked that Manilall be allowed to enter any jurisdiction in KwaZulu-Natal, however this was met with contempt by Judge Kruger.

“I am not willing to allow this man more freedom and therefore more opportunity for him to evade justice. He does not deserve it,” the judge said.

Judge Kruger did grant Manilall the adjournment and in terms of a draft order the appeal was adjourned to May 15 next year.

Manilall was given until January 30, 2015 to place his legal representatives in funds.

Failure by Manilall to continue with the appeal on May 15, 2015 will result in the appeal being struck from the roll and Manilall forfeiting his bail.

Manilall was convicted, with the woman he later married, Mumtaz Osman, and Viktor Mbatha, of orchestrating the murder of his first wife, Monika Manilall, in February 2006.

Monika was shot dead in her Howick home by four men found to have been hired to carry out the murder for a fee of R10 000.

The trial judge, the late KZN judge president Herbert Msimang, ruled that Manilall and his lover, Osman, assisted by Mbatha, had hired men to murder Monika because she had threatened to divorce her husband after finding out about his affair.

Manilall, Osman and Mbatha were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Manilall subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal against his conviction, which was granted.

In June 2011, he was released on R40 000 bail pending his appeal to a full bench. His bail was extended on Monday.

Manilall and Osman (who is serving her life sentence at Westville Prison) have since divorced and Manilall is again remarried.

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