Durban — On Monday, during the cross-examination of a witness in the murder trial of an off-duty Durban Public Order policeman, it emerged that one of the accused will claim to have not been there when the officer was put into two refuse bags after being shot.
Mzikayifani “Kayelihle” Ndebele and Sibusiso Ndlela are on trial in the Durban High Court in relation to the murder of Zolani Leadus Zuma, who was killed at the height of the 2021 July unrest.
It’s alleged that Zuma had been driving in his blue VW polo, dressed in civilian clothes, on the night of 13 July.
While driving, he came across Ndebele and the assailants, who were helping people transport looted goods in a car that Afrika Mthembu was driving. The policeman followed them to a house in Tshelimnyama.
At the house, the officer confronted Mthembu and the assailants, producing his State issued firearm. Ndebele disarmed Zuma and allegedly shot him and in the process. A shot hit his uncle, Mthembu, in the knee.
Zuma’s car was found burnt the following day. His charred body was discovered in the boot.
Ndebele stands accused of the attempted murders of Zuma and his uncle, while his co-accused Ndlela is charged with kidnapping and murdering Zuma.
The two have pleaded not guilty.
The court has heard how, after both Zuma and Mthembu had been shot, Mthembu was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital by his son Lungelo as well as his nephew Nzuzo Khethokuhle Mngadi.
Mngadi, who is a witness for the State, has led evidence and has described how the officer, who was alive at that time, was put into two refuse bags, put into his boot, and Lungelo and others drove away to set him alight in his car.
During Mngadi’s cross-examination, Ndlela’s attorney, J Hariram, said that her instructions from the accused were that he was not present when Zuma was placed in the refuse bags.
“I want to put it to you that in all this flurry of activity and in your state of shock, it is possible you may have misinterpreted the persons putting him (Zuma) into the plastics as movement of the injured person, in the haste you may have assumed that he was still alive. My instructions are that after you returned with Lungelo and accused two (Ndlela) from the hospital, after dropping off your uncle, accused two left to go to his home to drop off his cell phone. Further instructions are that when Duve told you to go get the bin bags, accused two had left to go drop off his cell phone, and he only returned after the body was placed in the boot. I put it to you that in this flurry of activity and state of shock, you assumed accused two was with you,” said Hariram.
However, Mngadi maintained that Ndlela was there when he was sent to get the two refuse bags and was there when they put Zuma inside the plastic bags.
Mngadi’s testimony had been that when Lungelo, Ndebele, Duve, and Ndlela left with the body after it had been discussed that the body would be torched with the car. He remained behind and did not go with the men.
“My instructions are further that once the injured person was placed in the boot of the car, and accused two had returned, he accompanied Duve and the others, thinking that they were going to the hospital. Accused two denies having heard that they were going to burn the body. He denies hearing Lungelo and Duve say this,” said Hariram.
In re-examination, Mngadi explained that they were all standing close together, less than a meter apart, when the discussion to burn Zuma in his car took place.
The trial continues.
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