MaNtuli accused could walk

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DAILY NEWS

Steven Masunga is charged with intimidating Nompumelelo Ntuli, commonly known as MaNtuli, President Jacob Zumas second wife. Photo: Zanele Zulu

Durban - The Tanzanian national who was arrested last month for allegedly trying to force one of President Jacob Zuma’s wives to arrange a “business meeting” with the president, could soon be a free man.

The magistrate presiding over his case has threatened to strike the matter from the roll because of issues regarding jurisdiction.

Steven Masunga, 31, who also goes by the name Steven Ongolo, was arrested in Durban last month.

This came after he sent an e-mail to various newspapers in which he alleged that he knew of a plot to kill Phinda Thomo, a former bodyguard of Zuma’s second wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli (commonly known as MaNtuli).

Thomo committed suicide in 2009.

Masunga has been charged with intimidation, but further charges, including crimen injuria, were expected to be added.

He had reportedly claimed he was a friend of MaNtuli’s and that he had information about her that she did not want to be made public.

When Masunga appeared in the the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court on Monday, public prosecutor Ndoda January could not tell the court exactly which magisterial district the alleged offence had occurred.

The charges levelled against Masunga were not area specific because they related to text messages, he said.

“The complainant could have been anywhere between Camperdown and Nkandla when she received the message,” he said.

He also said the matter was only before the magistrate’s court for the bail application and that it would, in all likelihood, be transferred to the regional court thereafter.

But magistrate Thys Taljaard said that in order for Masunga to apply for bail in Camperdown, he had to stand accused of committing an offence in that magisterial district.

The State is expected to provide more clarity on the matter at Masunga’s next court appearance on Wednesday.

Masunga was supposed to apply for bail on Monday, but the Legal Aid lawyer representing him, Lekoa Le-koko, was unavailable and the matter was postponed.

January and defence lawyer Mdu Thuketana, who took Lekoko’s place on Monday, butted heads on where the accused was to be held in the interim.

Thuketana asked that he be held in police custody because of Masunga’s health problems and he feared for his safety.

Masunga was absent from an earlier court appearance because he was in hospital. Thuketana said this was owing to an asthma condition.

January argued that an accused could only be held in police custody for seven days and that Masunga should be transferred to a local prison.

The magistrate questioned the legitimacy of fears for Masunga’s safety, but ruled that he remain in custody.

bernadette [email protected]

The Mercury


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